Charles Mudede

I brought you flowers, big dead raccoon on the corner of 32nd and South Alaska Street. You have been there for about five days, and though the flies buzz about you, your coat is still handsome, and you don't really smell of the death.

Who or what killed you? What was the last thing you saw? Your family must miss you, and may come across you at night, pause, and wonder, like I wonder, why you are still there. But I do not think you died here. You must have met your end elsewhere and were brought here. But by whom? The construction workers on the massive development across the street or the ones who partially demolished the house that your dead eyes kind of stare at? I remember this house very well. Mexican Americans once lived here, and on Friday nights they would play music, drink beer, and repair cars. Those people are gone and are never coming back.

I brought you flowers, big dead raccoon down the street from where two black men once lived in a blue mother-in-law cottage behind a blue house rented by broke, pizza-eating students. During the weekends, the black men would have lady friends over and barbecue, play '90s R&B, and watch Seahawks games. They were also visited by young men and women. I guessed they were their kids. There was plenty of room in the mother-in-law cottage. It was almost half a house. But one day, the house was demolished. And a few months later, it was replaced by a fancy duplex—each house asking for $1 million. Those brothers are never coming back. But soon after the duplex was completed, a Black Lives Matter sign was posted on the very spot the black men lived and had a good time.

I brought you flowers, big dead raccoon on the corner. And I also brought you a candle, because I know your life once burned brightly. Did you hangout in the Cheasty Greenspace forest? Was that your spot? Did you enjoy eating the eggs of crows or baby crows? Of course you did. That is why you wanted to stay alive. There's nothing in death. No forest, no crow eggs, no city lights.

I brought you flowers, big dead raccoon. And maybe I should have brought some cigarettes and a picture. But I will see you at dusk, when I walk home from Columbia City Station. I will stop by your huge corpse and give it a moment of thought in the twilight. You belonged to the city.