Rocky the Raccoon Bringeth Glad Tidings from the Gods

Last night, as I walked from the car to my doorstep, (without my glasses on), I saw a cute furry creature in my path. Being a lover of all furry kind, I reached out to pet it. It looked up at me. It had a black mask and a ringed tail. It raised one of its paws in an, “I don’t know if I should run or attack,” way. I pulled my hand back realizing I was this close to getting it eaten off by a racoon.

He and I looked into each other’s eyes for a moment. It felt like an eternity, but I’m sure it was only a few seconds. We had a mind meld of, “Don’t worry. I got you. We’re not going to hurt each other. It’s all good.”

I turned my head and went into the house. When I came out again to lock the car, the raccoon was gone. I felt a pang of loss and hope that he would find sustenance and a safe place to sleep. Someone pointed out to me later that because he was so fat, (he was a BIG boy), that must mean he has no lack of food. That made me feel better.

I took the encounter as a sign.

I don’t often take things for signs. I’m skeptical of that business. In the words of Freud, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But then, of course, sometimes it ain’t.

I took it for a sign for a couple of reasons. First is that in all the 23 years I have lived in this town, I have never seen a raccoon. Never. Second is that I just started intensely working on a book where Hermes is the main character. What is the raccoon? He’s a bandit. He’s a thief in the night. He’s tricky. He’s smart. He’s a survivor. If that isn’t a Hermes animal, I don’t know what is. Finally, the fact that the only raccoon I would see in 23 years of living here should happen to cross my path within just inches of me two days after I started the Hermes book is too uncanny to ignore.

I took the sign to mean that Hermes is fine with the book. It is quite irreverent and I was worried about that. The raccoon did not attack or even look at me with the slightest meanness in its eyes. He was wary. I was wary. When we saw the other was going to be respectful, all was well and there was a peace between us.

If I approach my book from an irreverent yet respectful place, I need not fear offending Hermes or any of the gods. So says Rocky the raccoon.



About M. Ashley

Essayist and poet, my work has been rejected by some of the finest journals in America. Fortunately, it also gets accepted from time to time and has appeared in equally fine journals such as Word Riot, Inlandia, Brew City Magazine, and SageWoman among others.. In 2002, I was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for Vanderbilt University. For no good reason, I possess an unnecessarily dark humor which is why being third generation California Inland Empirian delights me so. My gods are weird. I once received $350 for writing a smartassed essay on “why the wise use of water is important in my daily life”. I am undoubtedly the Greek god Hermes’ special snowflake. I’m pretty sure I got into college via a series of fortuitous clerical errors. When I had to grow up and get a real job, I decided against it and stayed a writer. I have worked many odd—and I mean odd—jobs to support my habit: Commercial writer for country music hopefuls, resume massager, WalMart fitting room attendant and switchboard operator, telephone psychic.
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