Orion Magazine: “Being Dads January 08, 2013, by Brian Doyle

Day after day after day after day after day Cars shot by the deceased mammal by the Side of the road by the woods until finally Even I, casually disrespectful of the dead, Stopped to edge it out of sight. A postman Stopped also. He thought maybe I needed Help. I explained that our deceased friend Here had been left unattended, and maybe He or she should be escorted to the woods Or at least out of sight; that seemed proper After several days of public viewing, and I Felt ashamed that I had zoomed past every Morning, so… We stared at the dry corpse. Porcupine, said the postman. A young one, Probably his first big adventure away from Mom and dad. Imagine his parents waiting All night for him and then all the next day, And then beginning to realize he’s not ever Coming home. I got kids, said the postman. You got kids? I got kids, I said. I know the Feeling of waiting all night. Me too, friend, He said, and he went back to his truck, and Got a snow shovel, and escorted the former Porcupine child into the woods. Then there Was the oddest sweetest moment; we stood By his truck and just stared up into the trees. Maybe we were looking for the parents. It’s Hard to say quite what that was. Being dads, I guess. Or prayers. We shook hands and left.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, and the author, most recently, of a novella, Cat’s Foot. Image courtesy of Theo La Photo.