Christmas of my tenth year brought a four-ten shotgun.
No longer a tag-along kid
Assaulting the deep drifts struggling to keep up,
But a real hunting buddy.
First rule was to memorize the ten commandments of gun safety.
I labored with those rules.
Would we ever really go hunting?
We would go to the sand pits for target practice.
I could shoot good.
Then began lessons to drive.
Not really drive, but just as Daddy showed me,
I would, with exaggerated movements, put the car in forward,
Then reverse, and move it back and forth a few feet.
Stretching my spine to its straightest to see over the wheel,
And my toes to their longest to reach the clutch and break.
The makings of very heady stuff for such a little person to control a great monster
I drove great adventures in those back and forth few feet.
I didn’t really comprehend what he meant
When he told me I might be the only one
To drive for help in case of an accident.
So I learned, and loved the driving too.
It made me more and more my daddy’s boy,
And more and more impatient for the day to come.
The car mastered,
We headed home from the sand pits.
The day was gray and damp and promising snow.
The car heater blasting back the cold.
Cheeks stinging with color,
I would finally, slowly, pull from memory each word of each rule,
Adding a definition in my own ten year old words.
With ear crushed to my bedroom door,
I strained with every fiber to hear Daddy’s muffled tones.
He told Mom he was going hunting in the morning.
Then with breath caught up in lungs so tense they hurt,
Eyes squinted so closed it forced a tear,
Just as if I made it happen, he added,
“I’ll be taking Judy.”