Back Walking behind you I notice the loosely formed oil stain on the back of your shirt, shaped like a half-formed Dalmatian, it runs and barks to the wind in rhythm with your steps as you weaved in between growths of thickets and low-hanging brambles. We’re in the woods and it’s early Autumn. You have your old twenty-two riﬂe clutched in your good hand, your left hand, and your knuckles are swollen around the polished chestnut stock. Your walk is hard, heavy, and your feet push deep into the muddy leaves on the ground. You’re limping. I’m about four yards back from you, Grandpa, walking slow to dodge the switches you push out in front of you. For a time, this is good. We walk like this for a moment, patiently listening to the sound of the creek ten careful steps to our right and the dogs to our front. They’re coon dogs, and they get their name from what we’re hunting. They’re about twenty yards ahead of us, prancing delicately as they sniff the ground for recent signs of a raccoon. We’re hunting raccoons, but we’d be happy with squirrels at this point. I hear you cough and wheeze from over my shoulder but shrug it off as we cross over a log that’s fallen over our trail and take a few steps towards a patch of yellow ﬂowers sprung up in a clearing of about ﬁfty feet. 4
It’s around this time that the dogs start barking. From up ahead, we see them dart across the clearing and into the shadow of a line of pine trees. As we chase after them, we enter the clearing and for the ﬁrst time in two hours I can run beside you. I look over to see your face, a crooked deep smile is etched into your winkled mustached face. You’re happy, and I match your speed. You’re much slower than me, but the dogs are still barking up ahead and we are getting closer. There’s a whistle in your throat as you run. You don’t seem to mind – maybe it’s always been there. There are two logs piled up at angles to one another, making an ‘x’ in the muddy, barren path. The dogs had jumped over it, I could see the claw marks from their paws etched into the moss. I jump over one, then the next, and continue toward them. I hear you yell from behind me, “Keep going after those damn dogs!” So, I do. Continue reading at portcityreview.com...
Back, Fiction Perrin Smith, Rock Spring, GA B.F.A. Writing
Reclaim, Giclee Print Lexie Peterson, Milwaukee, WI B.F.A. Photography