Issue Twenty-Eight - Summer 2016

Nina

By Patti White

I
How she hated thunder. How she sat so still and quiet when the tornado came and then hated the thunder even more, and the hard rain, and even a winter wind. And how she walked in the mist and drank wild water from the gutter, refusing the silver water bowl, wanting to drink the sky.

II
One day a squirrel fell out of the sky. Crossing from oak to oak above the street, it lost footing and landed stunned on the asphalt. A dog miracle, manna from heaven. Every walk, until the tornado took the tree canopy, she waited for another squirrel to fall exactly at that spot. She looked up. She waited. Never discouraged, always hopeful, expecting providence.

III
She had doppelgängers. Deevel the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The deer leaping across the road in Pebble Creek. Lauren Bacall. She could and did pout. She scorned the tennis ball. She had ideas about people on wheels. She agreed that armadillos must be allowed to go their way in peace.

IV
One summer there were fifteen kittens in the courtyard. Imagine her astonishment. How patiently she stood as they staggered under her belly or tried to climb her legs. How delicately she placed her feet. How she wondered if they fell like stars, like berries from the laurel. Think also how one, now full grown, sits in her room tonight. How he wails for her.

V
She watched chipmunk tv. She had a vocabulary. Her internal clock ticked precisely and insistently. She took names. She hated football. Eviscerated every squeak toy immediately. Loved men unless they rang the doorbell. She occupied a room completely. Kept maps in her head. Was deliberate as an Oxford comma.

VI
She disappeared into a stand of goldenrod, investigated reeds in the little pond, watched wasps get drunk on wild apricots. She startled at hawks and rabbits. Rested on cool earth on hot summer days. Strangers asked: what kind of dog is that? Brown dog, I said. Big brown dog.

VII
I think she is outside and I need to let her in. That she smells of rosemary and her feet are wet. I think she is curled on the green chair half asleep. I think I need to fill the water bowl. That it is so dark in the courtyard now. I think she is inside. I need to let her out.

Copyright White 2016

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