Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Possum Crossing by Nikki Giovanni analysis

Possum Crossing
by Nikki Giovanni
Backing out the driveway
the car lights cast an eerie glow
in the morning fog centering
on movement in the rain slick street

Hitting brakes I anticipate a squirrel or a cat or sometimes
a little raccoon
I once braked for a blind little mole who try though he did
could not escape the cat toying with his life
Mother-to-be possum occasionally lopes home . . . being
naturally . . . slow her condition makes her even more ginger

We need a sign POSSUM CROSSING to warn coffee-gurgling neighbors:
we share the streets with more than trucks and vans and
railroad crossings

All birds being the living kin of dinosaurs
think themselves invincible and pay no heed
to the rolling wheels while they dine
on an unlucky rabbit

I hit brakes for the flutter of the lights hoping it's not a deer
or a skunk or a groundhog
coffee splashes over the cup which I quickly put away from me
and into the empty passenger seat
I look . . .
relieved and exasperated ...
to discover I have just missed a big wet leaf
struggling . . . to lift itself into the wind
and live

 The speaker of this poem is a women who is frustrated with people and sympathetic towards animals. 
It frustrates her that people don't take the time out of their busy lives to watch out for the welfare of the animal.
She feels bad for the animals because they lose their lives on a day to day basis for nothing. Their deaths could be 
avoided, but due to the failure of drivers to acknowledge the animals, there is nothing preventing the poor little 
animals from being harmed.
 As far as the diction goes, I love how the author caused a dramatic effect when she would pause for a while
using three periods. It gave the reader a chance to reflect on what  had just been said, and also put more emphasis 
on the upcoming line. Throughout the poem it was constantly adding dramatic effect to places that really stood out
because of it. For example, in the 5th stanza when she says, "I look... relieved and exasperated..." This lets the 
reader soak in the situation and really understand the authors feelings. 
 The were tons of imagery in this poem that made it fun to read. One specific example was in the 5th stanza
when she described the scenario in the car saying, "Coffee splashes over the cup which I quickly put away from me
 and into the empty passenger seat." I can clearly see an image of a women in the front seat of a car throwing her 
coffee aside in hopes that she would avoid the animal in the street. 
 An example of figurative language in this poem would be in the 5th stanza when she says, "I hit the brakes."
This is an example of anthropomorphism because she associates a human action with a non-human object. You
technically can't hit brakes. The correct term would be to apply brakes if you were going to use the word in that 
particular context. However, it does correctly represent an example of an anthropomorphism, which is definitely a form 
of figurative language.
 The meaning of this poem is to stick up for others when they can't stick up for themselves. The author mentions
the tiny squirrels and the pregnant possum to create a sense of vulnerability so that we can see how truly helpless these
 animals are. Then to show contrast, she explains how people are too busy with their coffees and their morning routines to 
realize the animals crossing the street. By creating this sense of "good" and "evil", the author can draw you into her side and
make you feel like by supporting this "Possum Crossing" sign, your doing the right thing. By supporting this "Possum Crossing" 
sign, you're sticking up for the animals when can't do that themselves. 


  1. Very insightful. I realize that you no longer update this blog, but this post sure did help me a lot with my English report. Thanks!

  2. Pl.s say meaning of warn coffee gurgling