Thresholds

 

When toddler and grandmother

follow the garden path

ready to pick new peas

they come upon a steaming

pile of bear scat.

They calmly turn around,

go home without the peas.

Taking fifty dollars from her purse

laying it on the table

the woman simply says

                 Get the boy a dog.

 

Soon we have a free-to-good-country-home

dog and a new out-of-doors rule:

                 When the dog barks, head for the house.

No questions asked, no debating the cause —

squirrel or grouse, bear or old Henry’s

bull out for a wander

because Henry’s on a bender

and doesn’t know he’s gone.

The rule works — dog and children each play their part.

 

But when the dog barks by

the roadside, won’t break off at

my whistle, I dismiss the rule.

I warily leave porch and yard to see what’s up.

From road’s edge I hear high pitched chatter —

a sow treeing her cubs.

 

In an instant she crosses the ditch

completes her bluff, huffing and standing

on two legs. Without a thought for the dog

I retreat a few steps then hightail it for home.

The dog slips by as I cross the threshold.