It was a baby hedgehog that blocked my path
today on the way to Maddy’s school.
Its fur was soft, tufted, and gray, barely
prickly. It lay with its eyes shut like a stuffed
doll, its infantile paws like a baby’s
hands outstretched and resting next to its small
pink snout, so I couldn’t tell right away
that its entrails were sprayed a foot or two ahead
where clots of red alive with black flies buzzed
while the neighbor’s cat eyed me slyly before
swaying away with stained whiskers. Its sweet
plump belly is now an empty sac,
its fullness now its opposite, and its surging
pulse, too, the opposite, what it felt
has become the cessation of feeling.
There’s no other way to get Maddy home,
I think, there’s no other road we can take
around this. No reason or explanation
for what she suspects is true about the world
but doesn’t know. I’ll carry her over
this death, though her weight might make me bleed more.
It’s too late. I’ll carry her so she won’t see.
I’ll let her pick the apple blossoms that are
bursting from the trees now that spring has come.