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Midnight Encounter
Patricia Williams


Have you seen a badger up close —
that notoriously cantankerous carnivore?
Not unlike the loony cartoon,
he's America's answer to a Tasmanian devil.

Fierce, striped face, twenty pounds heavy — 
about as big as my rather large cat —
flat and low-slung, wedge-shaped body,
steel-strong curved claws,
coarse grizzled coat, marked white and black.

One summer night I encountered this predator,
rooted in the middle of the road.
He stood in the headlights, refused to budge,
glared unswervingly, bared wicked teeth —
hissed a spine-chilling guttural growl, snarled a dare.

Badgers attack things, I'd heard,
that far outweigh them, even an automobile.
Rather than risk a ruptured tire,
I smiled at his swagger and patiently waited
'til this undaunted spirit, this tough survivor,
decided to move on his way.

This poem first appeared in Poetry Quarterly (Spring 2017).
Used here with permission.


Patricia Williams and her husband live in central Wisconsin amid farm fields and abundant wildlife. She began writing poetry after retiring from 32 years of teaching Art and Design. Poetry, she feels, is painting with words, both using the same design principles. Patricia's work appears in many journals and anthologies, and she is the author of The Port Side of Shadows, a poetry chapbook about her travels, and Midwest Medley: Places & People, Wild Things & Weather, which received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her most recent book is Rejection to Acceptance: 57 Poems That Finally Made It, a collection of poems with commentary. All of the poems in the book were eventually published, but were initially rejected--three, four, even five times. "It's the old theme of ...If at first you don't succeed," says Patricia. "I am a determined (stubborn!) person."


Post New Comment:
I could see this as a movie in my head as I read it. Yes, let the badger feel it's won, so it will move on, and then you can, too!
Posted 10/09/2022 04:44 PM
A fellow Wisconsin dweller, I Loved this poem. I ran into a badger once,and backed away, slowly.
Posted 10/06/2022 01:38 PM
Lori Levy:
Glad you were in the car when you encountered this creature! I agree, poetry is like painting with words, which you have done here.
Posted 10/06/2022 01:31 PM
That was interesting, Jayne, to read the backstory of the badger, especially about the miners.
Posted 10/06/2022 12:47 PM
This well-written poem taught me, in a unique way, about badgers. Also about the confidence of the tough survivor; the poet patiently waiting, opting to smile. Thank you, Patricia.
Posted 10/06/2022 12:44 PM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I loved the description of the badger as "notoriously cantankerous carnivore? Not unlike the loony cartoon, hes Americas answer to a Tasmanian devil."
Posted 10/06/2022 11:26 AM
Now, I want a National Possum Day here in NC. They're not so fierce, but when they hiss, watch out!! Love this badger poem!!
Posted 10/06/2022 10:00 AM
Well, my school mascot, revealed as Tasmanian Devil! Will you ever?
Posted 10/06/2022 09:50 AM
I've never spotted the badgers that live in my neighborhood, but ever since one of them dug a hole directly beneath the utility company's "No digging" sign along the road, I've suspected they have a good sense of humor.
Posted 10/06/2022 09:49 AM
We found some badger holes in our back yard and filmed the badge once running in the snow.
Posted 10/06/2022 09:27 AM
Darrell Arnold:
I have had several encounters with Badgers in my native state of Colorado. I even found up in the tundra, above timberline. Oh course, you give them extra space, just like you would a bear. Thanks Partricia. This is a great tribute to a wonderful critter.
Posted 10/06/2022 09:02 AM
Wilda Morris:
"...Americas answer to a Tasmanian devil." Thanks for sharing this poem, and the introductory information in the email!
Posted 10/06/2022 09:02 AM
Larry Schug:
As stated in Patricia's bio., this truly a painting with words, perhaps more than one.
Posted 10/06/2022 08:21 AM

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