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January 2017, vol 12 no 4

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Cherie Hunter Day


With the seaweed exposed, the damp is wrung out in the night air. The mudflat smells sweet and fetid. “Come on, Buddy.” The man tugs the leash. The old dog is intent on sprinkling each low branch of the arborvitae tucked close to the house. It’s nearly midnight, and the porch light doesn’t reach across the entire lawn. A nudge from the shadows becomes a white streak ambling just this side of the picket fence. Buddy lunges toward the skunk and snaps the leash taut. The choke collar doesn’t stop the forward momentum. The dog barks repeatedly until the skunk sprays a warning shot. Though the dog is low to the ground, it is the leash that sets the parameters of the hit. The dog, the blue web leash, and the man: skunks are accurate to ten feet. The man knows that no amount of tomato juice will neutralize the stench. It will take the better part of a week to dissipate naturally but remains in the hair for more than a year as a reminder, pungent especially after rain.

Dad asleep
in his favorite chair –
the game on mute