Possums

 IN FAVOUR OF POSSUMS

When you’re new to a place, the mundane shines. Life glows in a lingering golden hour, the light-catching, surfaces sparkling. It’s picking up a cup of tea at perfect drinkable temperature. It’s finding a forgotten fiver, whenever you like.

Take possums. An oft-overlooked marsupial becomes strangely sentimental when you’re far enough from home.

DEAD

Crime scene. In the middle of the pavement, a petrified possum was a lurid mannequin on an early evening whodunnit. Its tail perfectly coiled, paws outstretched. Hexed by a ghost. Or electrocuted from an overhead wire. Fleeting last moments perfectly preserved. Everyone skirted around it, hurrying to work. I took a photo instead. It felt quite tender to bear witness to this dead animal poised still with so much energy. Overseas it got a great reception. Unfamiliar roadkill can be incredibly exotic after all. 

NEARLY DEAD

Heatwaves made me feel more alien than ever. A colossal hairdryer blowing in your face, quashing the desire to do, well, anything at all. Like an overlooked houseplant or a nervous lover, you tend to droop almost instantly, zapped of energy and enthusiasm. 

It was 45 degrees and the possum resorted to hiding in a carved out drainpipe next to the pavement. There was a crowd of do-gooders around it, looking worriedly on at rather close quarters. 

The possum was hunched, eyes wide. Perhaps thinking twice about this shady spot that had turned into such a high traffic zone. 2pm for a possum must have that slow, sludgy feeling of waking up extra early for a reason you likely regret. I could empathise. This unforgiving heat was almost incomprehensible for me too. 

After my water bottle was declined by the rescue squad, I wandered home. The heat felt trapped in my face like a fart in a jar. Then, the cool change came through. The breeze heightened, the temperature dropped. Lucky me, lucky possum.

ALIVE

Riding back from the cinema, late. On my bike, dragging my boyfriend on a skateboard behind. After moving across continents in the name of love, who knows what other rom-com moments might suit you. I hit the brakes. A bat hung off one end of a telephone wire. A possum crawled along the other end. Two different beasts from two different worlds, finding a place they both call home.

ALIVE AND THEN SOME

Being far from home, there are people sorely missed. When they come to visit, every moment is the cherished last bite of dessert. Sitting in the park together, I soak up the feeling. The sun turned tangerine, then plummeted. A dropped stone in a flowing river. As we packed up to leave, the trees rustled. In the fluorescent light of a wobbly phone torch, a possum carried a baby on its back. I watched the baby possum cling onto its family with my family I also wanted to cling onto just as much. 

If you look hard enough, a common pest might give you all the solidarity you need.