Tales From The Past

Will de Kypia



THE LESSON
This happened a long time ago, before cars
had seatbelts and airbags like they do now.

Foggy morning and the boy's going a bit fast
for a beginner. Suddenly there's a semi looming
ahead, dead in the road. He hits the brakes, hard
but too late. The old man's riding shotgun. No
chance to brace, he hits the windshield, hard.

Squinting through blood,
the father pulls his dazed son
over to the passenger side behind
the crazed and gory windshield.
Then he gropes around the car,
climbs into the driver’s seat, and
lays his broken skull on the wheel,
never minding the horn’s blare.

When the cops arrive, they find the boy
paging through his learner’s manual,
asking over and over

__“Dad, what am I supposed to do now?"




PERMANENT SCAR
When we were kids our parents
got us a dog at the animal shelter.
Not a puppy but an older dog
that no one else wanted.
A pet and a project.

“Abused,” the staff told us.
“She'll need a lot of love,
and it will take time.”

We named her Lorna Doone after
an old novel my mother had read.

Small but stocky, with tan spots above
the eyes. We thought there might be a bit
of Rotteweiller or something else in her.

Lorna was mean from the start,
and stayed mean.
_She had this trick
of raising her head toward a friendly
stranger’s outstretched hand as if to
sniff it.
_Then she'd suddenly lunge
and snap at the hand, viciously.

We lacked the skill, perhaps the love,
to make her forget whatever bad things
had happened before she came to us.
We were afraid to take her outside.
So we kept her inside.


She lived in a corner of the basement.
We could talk to her, touch her, but she never
grew friendly or even comfortable with people.
She did not play. When we brought food she
ignored it until everyone left, then ate alone.

Eventually she became a curiosity of the house
we showed off to our guests, like a bookcase that
concealed the entrance to some hidden passageway.

The last time I saw her was just before she died.
Home from college, I went down to her corner.

“Hey, Lorna girl, how are we feeling?”

Eyes clouded by cataracts, she stared.
Raised her greyed muzzle, teeth bared.
Then she caught my scent and relaxed,
let me pet her body, run my fingers
across her lusterless pelt.

Those blind eyes watched me as I stood up.
“Bye now, Lorna, bye bye.”

Some wounds do not heal.




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