The Dirty Work

The Dirty Work

Dad dug a hole behind the barn,
loaded his 12 gauge with shells
to shoot a half a dozen cats.
If I understood correctly,
they had overrun the farm.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross
for every kitty to run wild,
to make litter on top of litter,
I heard my father mutter
under his breath.

It wasn’t like bang, you’re dead.
I saw firsthand, up close, my dad
pluck broken bodies off the grass
by the tail or the scruff of the neck,
toss them into the pit, still breathing,
until the pounding tip of his spade
made all the breathing stop.

Dad the killer. I the witness.
I played my part just right.
And if I understood correctly,
what a lucky son I was
to have a Dad with a gun,
who brought me along
in what had to be done,

and a less practical Mom
who stayed in the house
with God and my sisters.

 

©James L. Ralston

 

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