by Christine Adams Beckett
When asked to recall her earliest memory,
She couldn’t be sure it imprinted
On the evening she was small enough
To be bathed in a porcelain kitchen sink,
But mature enough to recognize
The animal who was pilfering a banana
From the fruit bowl on an adjacent porch table
Was a raccoon.
The bandit mask hid a
More concrete identity of
The moment, which would later be bent
To fit her present Order, shift to comfort,
To draw significance out of a few seconds
There was no precise moment
When her brain had developed
Into a form that could imprint
And preserve moments in time,
Fix indelible experiences that suited ones
Before or after the bath.
Once a raccoon, a simple banana thief,
Later turned furry dexterous animal
When personified could talk
On the product of an herbaceous flowering plant.
Thanks to the lent voice of her mother
Raccoon could perform a passable
Impersonation of Carmen Miranda
In The Tutti Frutti Hat.
Through the lips of her sister,
The fruit thief becomes an integral member
Of Chiquita’s promotional team.
Brother turned Harry Belafonte
Declared daylight come and
Raccoon go home, Mr Tallyman
Offers a door prize to wash
In the lake with his opposable thumbs.
Now she recalls her Carmen Miranda,
Her own personal Savior;
The child in the porcelain sink, her disciple.
Washing her feet, so that her whole body
Be clean. “Unless I wash you,
You have no part with me.”
Native wide cheekbones, reflected
Her own. Deep brown eyes with no
Pupils absorbed her. The raccoon
And his childish antics have been
Evicted by a 1970s renovation project.
Porch screens leave him and the wrens,
The sparrows separate from the
Domestic world. But she
Remains. A connection to loveliness
Invented to dry her with an
Enormous towel that still smells
Of lake water and delusion.