GALE ACUFF – RESCUE

Rescue

We don’t know just what to do with the dead
dog in the middle of the road so my
sister and I carefully look both ways
to make sure the car that killed him doesn’t
kill us, too, and him twice over. We pick
him up and put him in a shoebox, then
carry him to the barn and put him on
a shelf in an empty stall and forget
him until, a few days later, Father
calls us to the barn and, waving the flies
away with his hands (but he never scares
them away for good), asks us how that thing got there.

You were 7 and I was 5. What could
we say that made sense? What else could we have
done? He was just a little dead dog in
the middle of the road, you tell him, and
so we rescued him. I back you up by
nodding vigorously. I remember
that my hands were clasped behind my back. I
stand behind you because you were taller
and I was afraid. Rescued him from what,
asked Father. Look at all the flies in here!
We looked. Sure are a lot of flies, I said,
about a million-jillion. Son, go fetch
the shovel, Father orders. The shubble,
I say. Yes, the shubble–I mean shovel,
he says. Go, boy, go. It’s in the next room.
I get it and bring it back and find you
crying. I got that shubble, I say. Well,
give it here, he says, and I’ll go bury
him. He lifts the box and puts his left hand
underneath it. It looks wet like the garbage
bag under the sink when it’s full of grease
and peels and shells. Here, I can’t carry both,
Father says. Follow me with the shovel.
I’ll carry it, I say. I’ll carry it,
you say. You do. I let it go. Your face
is shiny-wet, like blacktop in the sun.

We follow Father behind the garden.
There’s a dead rabbit in a hole somewhere
out here. He’s asleep for keeps, you whisper.
He’ll never wake up here, but in Heaven.
Oh, I say. I don’t know what Heaven is.
Father puts the dog on the ground and digs.
When he’s done he wipes his face on his shirt.
His belly button is bigger than mine
–I’ll bet I could stick my nose in it. It’s
hairy, too. Then he puts the dog in, box
and all, and fills the hole back in but there’s
some dirt left over. How did that get there,
I ask. Stupid, you say, it can’t go back
’cause the dog is taking up its room. Oh,
I say. I see. But I don’t. Alright, then,
Father says, run along now and play. We

give him a name, I say. Who, he says. Our
dog, I say. Oh, Father says. Well, I’ll bite.
Bite what, I say. I mean, he says, what did
you name him? I turn back around to you.
Lucky, you say. Lucky’s his name. Lucky.

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