“A distant face” by sume
I’ll probably revise this a thousand times, as usual…
Mornings at mother’s house were piled
onto plates with biscuits and milk gravy
ladled from cast iron nights stretched
between the sawtooth bark and growl
of our half-breed Pekingese, rest unknown;
staked and tethered close, but out of reach
of the garbage. The raccoons only smiled
in return, knowing death traveled only as far
as the last link of chain. They feigned courage,
gorged themselves on human refuse; pieces
of chicken, half-chewed ham and carrots
discretely discarded to hasten dessert.
Only a trash-wreaking canine, protecting
a forbidden treasure and an insomniac
who never knew dreams, were left unsatisfied.
Mid-morning, with tongue smothered in gravy,
baggaged eyes crusted with sleep, I suggested
she weight the lids.
“Why?” she asked, “The dog does her job.”
With a wave of hand, she filled her plate,
and told me to wash my face.
Weeks later, we found Cocoa dead; a neglected
case of worms. Mother bought garbage cans
with latches, but night-thieves still grinned
over caches of waste knowing a prowler’s
best friend is his victim’s sense of security.
I lay awake longing, not for sleep
but to hear the sound of protest.