Wednesday, November 11, 2009

bandit and girl

grandma and grampa started feeding an old stray
a little white dog
she was holed up in the culvert
down near the end of the driveway
likely she was thrown out along the gravel road
and that was where she went to have puppies.
she bore a litter in a wet-weather culvert.
couple days later she moved them up to the house
toted by their napes singly

in ’39 or ’40
when the foundation of the porch was poured
grampa laid in two metal barrels
to make little caves
to serve as doghouses

this is where she moved her litter
i’d guess at grampa’s suggestion
she was amenable to making the introductions

there must’ve been 5 or 6
maybe one didn’t survive to open its eyes
the pups were a slightly yellowed white
except one
a sandy brown
we kept him at the house
so girl wouldn’t feel lonely
when the others were given good homes.

i named him bandit
a good name for a dog

once their eyes were open
it took one step
out the screen door of the porch
to be in the ultimate luxury
of a small boy
a lapful of puppies

one of the two overlapping
scars on my knee
came from racing girl up the driveway
the day before first grade
grampa and girl and i
were making the final leg home
after a walk.

i tripped over rock or root
went down hard on my left knee
the one that usually gets hurt
girl came back (she had the lead)
and licked my hand

grampa wrapped a white handkerchief
around my knee
and carried me to the house.
another torn pair of pants
for grandma to patch.

grampa and bandit and girl
met me every day
down at the end of the driveway
where i got off the bus.
grampa’d be sitting
in some obscure spot in the shade
hands around one knee
the other leg fully extended.
we’d walk to the house
the dogs assisting me
in exploration.

when i played with tractors
in the front yard by the big oak tree
bandit and girl
would find prime spots to lie down
to cool in the dirt and shade
diverting traffic and trampling fences.

i’d go out in the day
and call to them
in long syllables


and up they’d run
from whatever activities
occupy a dog
to join me
on escapades through the woods.

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