RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—May 21

Della Rowland

Maybe It Wasn’t A Golden Retriever

I was barely old enough to drive when Mom got sick in Sarasota 
on our first vacation after she divorced Dad.
I drove a thousand miles home 
in our white Chevy Impala convertible with red seats, 
straight through, no motel, with Mom slumped against the passenger-side door 
and my younger sisters and brother in the back seat 
with the top up the whole way.
During the night a blond streak crossed in front of the headlights, 
and I felt the two bumps under the tires on my side, the driver’s side. 
I slowed down to pull over but Mom, her voice dark 
and guttural, said, “Keep driving.” 

I did. But back there was the golden retriever
who was barking at the white and red convertible 
playing the chase game it was bound to lose some day 
whose face was turned toward the on-coming headlights, 
and now it was lying on the road, maybe beside the road, dead, 
I hoped, dead instantly I hoped,
not quivering in a ditch waiting 
for its owner to wake up the next morning 
and wonder where that danged dog was.

Maybe it wasn’t a golden retriever. Maybe I was remembering 
the dog I got when I was in third grade. 
I fell asleep in the back seat of our car 
on the way home from Granny and Grandpa’s one Sunday night, 
holding the puppy, my first pet, him asleep too, 
my arm over his fat belly,
my face next to his body
that smelled like a baby. 
Dad didn’t think we should sleep with our pets 
and hooked his leash to the clothesline at night.
One morning, the puppy was gone.
“Stolen,” Dad said. 
Mom said nothing.


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