Iowa Writes

DEBRA L. HUTCHISON
Dear Dog


I am sorry that I cannot remember your name.
I do remember that father tied a dead mallard to your neck.
And for one full week in the spring of 1966
the duck became our dark shadow. 
A lesson.  Explained to my sister and me.
For killing.  We had to break you.

And I am sorry that I cannot remember
if we did break you.  Did we break you?
I cannot recall. Did you stop? 
Or did you continue to kill the ducks
in the yard?  Did father shoot
you? I cannot remember.

I do remember you followed us
down the narrow path to bring up
our Holsteins every afternoon. And the meadowlarks
on the telephone wire singing.  Do you remember
meadowlarks singing? I am sorry, in the beginning
we would try not to look.  Try not to look
at the spoiled duck.  Remember her dirty feathers
and her bright triangled feet that left a crooked
trail in the dirt?  And remember her yellow family
that lined behind her like a toy
being pulled?  Did you kill them too?

I am sorry that I cannot remember your name.
I do remember that father tied a dead mallard to your neck.
And for one full week in the spring of 1966
the duck became our dark shadow. 
A lesson.  Explained to my sister and me.
For killing.  We had to break you.

And I am sorry that I cannot remember
if we did break you.  Did we break you?
I cannot recall. Did you stop? 
Or did you continue to kill the ducks
in the yard?  Did father shoot
you? I cannot remember.

I do remember you followed us
down the narrow path to bring up
our Holsteins every afternoon. And the meadowlarks
on the telephone wire singing.  Do you remember
meadowlarks singing? I am sorry, in the beginning
we would try not to look.  Try not to look
at the spoiled duck.  Remember her dirty feathers
and her bright triangled feet that left a crooked
trail in the dirt?  And remember her yellow family
that lined behind her like a toy
being pulled?  Did you kill them too?

I do remember we traveled together that week.
To the milk house, the creek, the barn.
Like shy friends. In the backyard we watched
as you rested under the newly bloomed lilac trees. 
Remember the pale lilacs that wrapped
around our faded green house?     
And remember the smell in the backyard
that spring?  The smell of death and lilacs.
Dear dog, remember the lesson
to break? Dear Dog, I am sorry. I have
forgotten your name.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


DEBRA L. HUTCHISON

Debra L. Hutchison spent the first eighteen years of her life on a dairy farm outside of Hampton, Iowa.  "Iowa has had a great deal of influence on my sensibilities as a poet," she says.  She earned an MFA from Vermont College and currently teaches Critical Writing at Le Moyne College.

This page was first displayed
on May 25, 2009

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