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“Non-native” remarks the milky, blue-eyed lawyer whose name I don’t know but who’s joined our table at the pizzeria on Capitol Way, and he’s sharing a story of a criminal convicted for swerving and killing a Possum.

Marsupials, the unspoken word sings round in my mouth Possums carry babies in pouches—my unuttered thought.

“Non-native,” he continues “like grey squirrels” who weren’t here when he was a kid. (a proof of belonging?) “Disgusting creatures” carrying on, unaware of my musings, “Ridiculous, he was convicted. They’re not even native .” He closes his case.

So, I mention the Nutria because I know a bit about nonnative too but he’s moved on, so I don’t say what I know of Green English Ivy, Golden Scotch Broom, or Himalayan Blackberry, smothering the prairies and choking the woodlands, climbing the trunks of The Western Red Cedar. And brown-eyed me, and blue-eyed lawyer, and plain house sparrow we’re non-native too.

I’m gone now, silently rowing names along the shore Priest Point Park, Olympia, Mount Rainier, and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Restless waters on my tongue

My mouth a pocket too full to speak Tahoma, Squiatl, Puyallup, Nisqually, and Squaxin

O Possum

Squirrel, Salmon, Swallow


I live here

I love you

* The word Possum was borrowed from the Powhatan language (Virginia Algonquian), which became extinct in the 1790’s when the speakers of the language, under duress, were forced to speak English. (Wikipedia 2018)

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