KILLER RACCOONS AT SLEEPING BEAR DUNES
“Perpetual peace is a futile dream.”
â€“Gen. George Patton
After proposing to my girlfriend at sunset
on the beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes,
we strolled, two happy campers, up the dark trails
toward our tent at the edge of the woods.
By primeval instinct, already sensing my new role
as hunter and protector, I clutched her handâ€”
the hand of my fiancÃ©â€”to show her that nothing:
no saber tooth, no tribal warrior, no witch
or bogeyman would ever harm her now.
Reaching our cave-like campsite, I hunted
in our Dodge Shadow for the fire-starter kit
while she set the table and started to cook.
Half a bottle of lighter fluid later,
after torching the entire Home and Garden
section of the newspaper, I had that twig pile
blazing. Toasting to our future, we clinked
our wine glasses and began our feast. Moments later,
disturbed by a rustle in the brush, I shined
my industrial, wide-beam flashlight into the woods,
revealing, right there, the whites of enemy eyes.
Crouched, ready to attack, were a hundred
or at least a dozen raccoons. Every soldier,
old or new, knows when to defend a stronghold
and when to retreat. So, turning from them,
we grabbed what we could, then dashed
fast as antelopes, our hearts pounding with primal
horror, into the Shadow and shut the door.
And out they crept, this platoon of bloodthirsty
raccoons, to plunder our rustic love-nest. Fearless
and furry, these furious murderers, these long-fanged
night demons devoured our dinner as we watched
from our car. Whispering that the bastards
wonâ€™t come near our wine, I passed the bottle
to my wife-to-be for a swig. Already, I could see
that she loved my soldier swagger, my urge to prey,
my potential for glory in the terrible wild.
Poem by Robert Fanning from The Seed Thieves (Marick Press, 2006)