By Jay Wieners
He shot birds down in that field across the road from his house.
That old man would take his shotgun,
and he would unleash his dog,
let her run after the falling remains of what was once a life.
He assures me he isn’t like other bird killers,
he uses every part.
A house adorned with fine feathers and mystery jerky tucked away in the back of a freezer.
His dog, I named her.
I didn’t teach her to kill.
He was the one that told her to bite down when it wriggled on the ground.
He taught her to sit when he opened the sliding door,
and I was stuck on the concrete deck with her.
My hands brushed over her filth like it was my own.
I became one and the same with that dog.
Ten years pass,
and I come back to find that a now older,
dog welcomes me back into her world without hesitation.
That same dog that bit down on the necks of birds and could run with trucks
lets me run her a bubble bath.
The big native man,
heavy artillery at his side,
watches from the deck as his pup jumps at the hose in my hands.
She rolls in the grass, lunging with no malice,
and covers my hips in suds and dirt.
We are one and the same.
My mother tells me to ask about it,
but I can’t bring myself to.
I already know part of the answer.
He had eleven siblings.
Later on in life, a wife and four children, two dogs.
All in the small houses they juggled between.
He needed his time alone.
I don’t think he ever really liked the aspect of killing.
But he still sat out in the middle of nowhere,
covered in bug spray and leaking of camo cloth,
waiting for a deer to cross his path.
I don’t know how other people hunt,
but my grandfather would sit in one place and wait.
He must have learned how to fish first.
When I was eight he took me fishing for the first time.
Beauty was about a year old.
That old dock reminded me of a fantasy movie.
So I abandoned my pink rod and lay down, letting my hand brush the water.
He tried to read to me,
but he lost his voice,
and I lost my ability to do anything but daydream.
I wasn’t allowed to be a kid most of the time.
We were juggling houses and breaking boundaries the same way he had.
But he taught me to daydream.
Just like he taught that dog to bite,
he taught me to take care of myself.
If Beauty ever ran away, she would be able to live on her own.
She was capable.
My grandfather had lived with other people his whole life;
I think he was scared of forgetting who he was amidst them all.
He didn’t like killing,
though he did love the jerky;
he didn’t go out in the afternoon looking for birds.