zepper-wide
Walking down
the long, lone road
in rural Ohio,

eyes adjusting
to angles of the shade
from old oaks
and full sun
above sunflower fields.

In a sunny spot ahead
at the edge of the ditch,
a piece of rolled brown sod.

At first it appears like
a tangle of willow twigs
alongside black earth.

Nearing the mound-
a dead badger.

I stare,
mirror the frozen grimace
on the badger’s face.

Exposed ribcage
glowing white
in summer sun,
each rib curved,
symmetrical, smooth, perfect,
an empty cage.

All of the life organs
like brightly colored birds
have flown away,
returning to robin’s egg sky,
a place of cool burrows
and clear tunnels.

Walking past a dead badger
on a rural Ohio road,

the songbirds sound so good together!

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Kevin Zepper teaches at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He has published four chapbooks of poetry. Presently, he is one half of a poetry/music performing duo, Lines&Notes. Several of his poems can be heard on the Northern Community Radio website under the program heading “The Beat.”

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