Roadkill Poem

By Ceci Webb

The dog’s eyes would not close.

My mother, standing, authoritative 
in the way mothers are in small 
moments of tragedy, 

waited on the phone,
lips pursed with the sourness of bad news.

We did not see his death. Five minutes prior 
I slammed on my brakes and rushed 
into the middle-road for the animal 
lying on his side, blood trailing from his 
teeth and flies already heralding 
decay. Yet I thought 
he must be breathing — I couldn’t begin 

to think of him as a thing,
even if that’s what he was: 
a thing, once alive, now dead, now
obstructing traffic on a South Georgia road. 

Just the week before, I’d nearly 
stopped for an injured raccoon I
momentarily mistook for a cat. 

His body was done for. 
He lay in the same death-blood as the dog. 

On the way home, I saw him
again and again on the road, 
his thrashing tail, his wavering near-corpse. 

But the dog was irrefutably, immutably 
dead. My relief 
that we did not find him likewise 
living and writhing 
hung over my insides, cloak-like. 

I still couldn’t bring myself to help 
my mother move him. I was too 
terrified to hurt the dead thing. 

She alone 

heard the final gurgle, felt 
the terrible warmth of his freshly lifeless 
corpse as she dragged him to the curb. 

I wondered 
if someone had hit him— it — on purpose. 
People do that sort of thing around here, 
my sister had said.

Later, my father admonished me. 
You can’t pull over for every dead animal, he said
without gentleness. Roadkill is something 
you just have to get over — like 
littering and homeless people. 

It is, he said, just part of it. 

I knew what he was really saying.
Be careful. Be safe.
Don’t expect so much from the world. 

Still, I think about that dog.
The flies, the blood. 


Ceci Webb (they/them) is an emerging poet living in Athens, Georgia. They have been published or have work forthcoming in BRUISER, Poetry South, and Local Honey magazine. Their interests include risking fender-benders to save turtles from oncoming traffic and befriending the neighborhood cats.

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