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.