Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Gale Acuff

A Dog and His Boy

When we have a thunderstorm I bring
my dog in from the rain. I needn't go
far—he's waiting at the back door, standing
like a little dog-faced man. Back away,
I say, so I can open the door. He
does, and I do, and he comes in like an
animal. He heads for my room, upstairs.
He's at the top of the stairs, thirteen steps,
when he turns to see me at the bottom.
I'm coming—hold your horses. But he's gone
into the bedroom, sitting on the bed
when I arrive. And when the thunder claps
he goes under. I decide to join him.

It's not so bad under here, maybe too
many dust bunnies and not much clearance,
but we're trying to lie as low as we can
anyway. It's dark but the lightning strikes
the air outside and lights our way nowhere.
though we see each other with each lightning
bolt. I'm not cowed but I'm learning to be

—he's a good teacher. He's a natural.
I learn just by looking at him. For some
he might be hard to read but I've known him
since he was even less than a pup, knew
his mother, and I can guess his father.
Then I adopted him—a neighbor gave
him to me and I became a Master.
I'm only ten but responsible
—he taught me how to be, and I love him
better than my parents or my brother
or my sisters, and pretty near to God
and Jesus. All the saints I never knew
can't come close. Not even the Justice League
or Legion of Super-Pets or Lassie
or Rin Tin Tin or that rare breed of dog
above, Canis Major. Or the Dog Star.

When the clouds stop their noise we crawl free from
beneath the place where I dream—and, sometimes,
he dreams, too—on fine afternoons, the sun
the slow and hot ball-lightning of the day.
And on evenings when the moon comes floating
to the top of the night, we sing harmony.

©2010 by Gale Acuff

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in many journals, and has authored three books of poetry. He has taught university English in the U.S., China, and the Palestinian West Bank. He now teaches at Taizhou University, in Linhai, Zhejiang Province, China.

  Home Contributors Past Issues Search   Links  Guidelines About Us

Subscribe to the Slow Trains newsletter