My Mother’s Dogs

By Sandy Gingras

Featured art: Three Dogs Fighting by Antonio Tempesta

They are big and smelly and mean,
and they’re living in her basement.
I think they are dogs, but they might be wolves.
Eight or eighteen of them, something like that.
They all would bite me if I gave them
the chance, so I’m really careful
when I herd them out into the yard.
What is it with my mother?
Most families just have pets—usually one dog
and a cat, nothing like this. How
did she let this happen to her?

She’s living in some decrepit house now on Rt. 9
in the next town over and she’s evidently lost
her taste in furniture. Everything is gold
with rickety legs. She and I watch
the dogs patrol around the yard
from behind a glass sliding door. My mother is angry
now that she’s old, and I think that maybe
she and the dogs deserve each other, but
I can tell that my mother is scared too,
and I want to help her out because
I’m the problem-solver in our family.

The dogs don’t play like normal dogs,
they just move around the yard
like big bullet-headed missiles. We have to get rid
of them somehow, I tell my mother who is
suddenly smaller than she was, and then I hold her
in my arms and she’s a little girl. Whatever you do,
don’t let them in, I whisper, but
she’s already dead of lung cancer.

Sandy Gingras is the author and illustrator of twenty-five gift books. She designs stationary products for several companies and owns two retail stores. She lives with her husband and her golden retriever on an island six miles out to sea off the coast of New Jersey. She won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger Award for a mystery she wrote in 2012.

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