To A Young Porcupine – WARNING – Sad/Graphic Photo


To A Young Porcupine, Killed

We might have gone to the same palm reader
if we believed in palm readers,
but porcupines don’t, as a matter of instinct,
and me –  my lifeline fades half-way
across my hand.

And if the psychic had squinted
into your palm’s inked crease,
would she have warned you away
from dogs?

And what would she have said
to your mother, who, I suspect, quivers close-by–
That you can do everything right, even heroically,
and yet not save each day.

The dog, its eyes still able
to show hurt, is hurried to the vet.
but I come back to you,
turning with a stick your torn form,
hiding what’s been made meat.

Sometimes our natures
fail us -like the dog who swoops
into a muzzle of needles.
Sometimes, it’s simply chance
that lets us down – like you, sniffed out
by a lonely stream–
Then there are times like this, those
like me, who try to see ourselves as immune,
deciding that thumbs,
sticks, cameras (maybe even
guns) will protect us from
random fates; will save our young too
from the clutch of the

Your fingers stretch out,
in the position I’ve managed,
your palm gently cupped
and so like mine that we might have gone
to the same palm reader, had we believed
our lives were held
in the lines of our hands.


I’ve missed you all terribly!  But I have been very busy with my job, and adjusting to new life of back and forth – city and country -and some other pretty serious life issues.    And I have at least been looking at one of the novels (I am tempted to say, stupid novels), I am trying to rewrite.

The experience described above has been very much on my mind too though — a porcupine killed by the dog of a friend and neighbor (not my old blind Pearl)  and I have been trying and trying to write something about it.   I still don’t think I’ve gotten down what I wanted to say, and I’m sorry to those of you that find the picture disturbing.  It is disturbing.  Very sad on all counts.

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13 Comments on “To A Young Porcupine – WARNING – Sad/Graphic Photo”

  1. G-Man Says:

    You write with such heartfelt empathy.
    Beautiful, brooding, questioning.
    You are a special soul in a world of disarray.
    Thank YOU for allowing me to have a little fun…. Galen

  2. claudia Says:

    k. i can so feel your heart in this…really must have hit you deep down in your core… sometimes we see sth. and it hits a string and the string starts to vibrate and in this touches parts in our soul that we wouldn’t have known about or felt otherwise…so…not sure if this makes sense but happens often to me and this feels a bit similar

  3. Jenny Woolf Says:

    Great poem. It links so well – and like all good poems, it says more than the sum of its words.

  4. ayala Says:

    Nice write..made me sad.

  5. brian miller Says:

    felt verse….sometimes our natures fail us…there is truth in that and i feel the sadness/empathy in your poem…sometimes we are given these little glimpses as well…it takes them to shake us and make us realize…

  6. hedgewitch Says:

    Nature is a book whose pages are not all butterflies and roses–I think you get at the central connection very well, with enough subtlety not to make it a scream–that violence is in our world, the pattern of our lives, our bones, whatever animal we are, that we are both killer and victim, with only a palm to ‘explain’ the unknown reasons for everything that we can’t control, and that we know as little as the young hedgehog, suffer as much as the foolish dog, because of it. (You remember I wrote about this dog-hedgehog conundrum also–though mine was pushing a different aspect, and a lot more of a sledgehammer than your delicate, adroit camera and thumbs–it’s a combination that cries metaphor, and teases the brain.) Forgive me if I’ve gotten it totally wrong. It’s good to read your work again, k. Glad to hear you are settling in, despite the worries and difficulties.

  7. nessa1313 Says:

    A very thought provoking piece. Some things seem so unpredictable and yet inevitable.

  8. Mama Zen Says:

    This is just beautifully done. The circle back to the lines on the hands is perfect.

  9. janehewey Says:

    the clutch of the unreadable.
    you’ve done wonderfully with this.
    I enjoyed your palm reading connection, highlighting our
    biggest question.

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