Weather I Wouldn’t Leave a Dog Out In
Gale Acuff

It’s raining. Hard. In my attic bedroom
I hear it hit the roof. My dog does, too
—he’s scared of thunderstorms so I bring him
inside. At the sound of a thunderclap
he whines. Easy, boy, I say. There’s nothing
to be afraid of.
I’m bluffing, of course.
But I have to have courage for two now.
It’s good practice for when I’ll be married.
I try to stay calm, reading comic books,
danger on the page but the good will out.
Not that a storm is evil, exactly,
but it poses a threat like evil does.
Not that I’m an example of goodness,
but I’m not bad—I’m kind to animals.
I don’t want to be outside in all this
even if I’m dry on the porch or in
the garage. No, I’d be with those I love,
if dogs can love. At least they like a lot.
And if they don’t even like then they possess
some qualities that people don’t have. Not
instinct, exactly—I have that, too. Not
opportunism—I’m guilty of same.
Some sort of devotion—I copy that
but I’m careful about making people
animals and animals people. It’s
just that when we have a thunderstorm—and
lightning—I’d let pass anyone who bangs
against the door not so much to signal
that he’d like permission to enter but
that he’s going to burst right through
so desperate is he to find some shelter.
If ever my dog loved me then it’s then.

I lie on the bed and read and try to
tune in the local AM stations on
my transistor radio. He’s under
the bed, his muzzle poking out but not
much more. I let my left hand down and pet
him. He licks it once or twice, then stops and
sighs. Thunder explodes again and I rub
his nose and he licks my fingers again.
The rain falls like one long pour from a pail
and the lights go out so I get up and
drop to the floor and crawl under the bed
with him. Don’t be afraid, I say. It’s good
for the farmer.
But hell on the scarecrow.
We haven’t been this close since we were pups.
Now I’m four years old again and he’s not
sixty-three in dog-years. I kiss his snout.
You’re the best pal I ever had, I say.
When the storm passes we don’t want to leave

but we do. Now there’s sunshine, and water
in puddles, and stricken summer leaves, and
branches everywhere. He’ll be okay now.
I’ll see you later, I say. I go in
and take a last look back but he’s sniffing
everything as if he’s in a strange land.
And when I bring him his supper, he’s dead.

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