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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 1: January 2020
Haibun: 495 words
By Glenn G. Coats

Scout

 

1.

I fill her bowl with two cups of food. This one is made from real chicken, avocado, tomatoes, and carrots. The bag says the food is easy to chew and digest—good for seniors. “Come here, girl,” I call. She lumbers around the house, follows me to the garden which is covered in layers of snow. I set the bowl down just inside the shed. “Here you go,” I say as she looks down and stares. I pick up the bowl and the dog follows me back to the house where I place it just outside the door. We both look up as geese honk in the winter sky.

midnight train
the shake of moonlight
on her fur

2.

Nighttime. The dog is stretched out under my legs. I listen to her labored breathing, laryngeal paralysis, common in large breeds; an airway is collapsing onto itself. She suddenly sits up, alert, and cocks her head as if she is trying to understand something.

“She remembers,” my wife says. “Remembers when you tossed sticks out on the lake, remembers swimming through dark water and finding every one. Long after you stopped tossing, she swam out to collect branches along the shoreline like she was preparing for a bonfire.”

I find one of her old rubber balls and fill it with a spoon of peanut butter. I toss it and she catches it in midair; chews on it for a long time, and as she does her breathing quiets, steadies, and her tail is wagging. It is a job like bringing back ducks—she needed something to do.

Indian summer
scent of sea
in the dog’s mane

3.

Morning. There are ice edges along the river, and the water looks black on a cloudy day. She walks ahead of me, stops to study patches of ice or to poke her head in some brush. “Stay back, girl,” I say. “Don’t fall in.” Sometimes, she just stops in her tracks. Looks at me, and then turns for home.

She is beginning to wander, strays through yards, drifts down the street. Neighbors have known her since she was a puppy and understand she’s getting up in years. “They’re here and then they’re gone,” one of them says. “Time flies.”

forgetting names
cows meander
through the shallows

4.

The coal stove glows like a sunrise. House groans from the wind and cold. The new baby passes from one relative to the next. Some whisper, others sing lullabies. The dog follows Maeve wherever she goes.

At night, the house settles. Maeve will wake up a few times before dawn and each time she stirs, the dog will rise and be there before we gather the baby in our arms. “You are my gentle giant,” my wife will say. “You are the best Nanny.” The dog will plant herself down next to the rocker knowing everything is safe, everyone is all right.

winter’s silence
movement of shadows
under the ice

Glenn G. Coats
Issue 1, January 2020

lives with his wife, Joan, in Carolina Shores, North Carolina, where they enjoy exploring the nearby waterways. His poetry collection about children who struggle with reading and writing, Trying to Move Mountains, was published by the Reading Recovery Council of North America. His writing has been nominated three times for the Pushcart and has been published in a number of magazines and journals including Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online, The Heron’s Nest, Acorn, Frogpond, and KYSO Flash, among others. Glenn is the author of four haibun collections: Degrees of Acquaintance (Snapshot Press 2019); Waking and Dream (Red Moon Press); and from Pineola Press, Snow on the Lake and Beyond the Muted Trees. In addition to writing, he enjoys playing guitar with his children as well as in the band Chicken Bog.

 
 
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