Report on the Status of Raccoons on Fern Avenue

Summer, 2016 / No. 37

The children have elected them, en masse, as head gardener, tastemaker, first love.

Individually, some are mistaken for escaped house cats or nothing at all—

renter’s-side of a one-way mirror. Assembled, they move as one. A giant fractal

considering the neighbourhood, licking off shingles for the gap-toothed view of our pills,

passwords, and occasional sex. Last frost is their favourite formula. Their claws

are fashioned from pull tabs, lighter silver, and lost earrings. The only words they know

are “I am sorry,” spoken in varying orders, velaric, almost, and often, swallowed.

Each animal forms a binary system with one of the feral chickens of Kauai.

They believe they are an island. Some are able to camouflage themselves as kitchen-made satellites

moving across telephone wires. They collect open-window data, half-lives of half-heard

conversations. They party-trick refuse, ingest, then leave it on porches, neatly, in curls:

intestinal cherry-stem knots. Each individual hair on their coat is an antennae to another.

They reclaim old pelts, cold crowns, from attics, commune with their dead, and wonder

why we pick our brushes clean. They believe we invented the rat and the car tire.

They understand construction cranes to be a form of prayer. They take more

meaning from the lay of flagstones than they should. They’re partial to the sound

of human crying. They sleep unmolested on the eaves we’ll never finish paying for.

(With a line from Elizabeth Renzetti’s Globe and Mail article “In Toronto’s War on ‘Raccoon Nation,’ I’m Siding with the Critters,” April 10, 2015.)