My mom found the dead chipmunk
I had brought home from the lake.
It was the end of the summer I was ten;
the stripe-tailed rodent had come home
at peace in a blue and black JC Penney
shoebox I said contained ‘stuff.’
He sure looked stuffed.
A car – or maybe Ivar’s Jeep – had run
him over on the driveway leading up to
Ivar and Lila’s house; caught him from
behind as he was running, flattened
his little chipmunk carcass out like a
bearskin run fit for the floor in front of
Barbie & Ken’s Alpine Chalet fireplace.
Absolutely flat, cookie-cutter perfect,
spread-eagle chipmunk silhouette.
I moved him with a stick to the cement
fringe of the garage slab and the sun
used July to tan his little hide
By the time my summer fling at the lake
had drawn to a close he was tanned stiff,
had no odor, was slipped into the box,
transported home in our big blue Plymouth
Fury dad had no idea was really a hearse
then got stuffed under my mausoleum bed,
forgotten about until mom’s cleaning binge
She called the Gilberg’s house, where I was
playing, ordering me to come right home
Mrs. Gilberg stifled a laugh as I left;
‘laughed long and hard’ she told me, many
years after, once I had gone out her door.
My mother had told her of the cleaning,
and of her dislike of urban paleontology.
I caught all sorts of hell when I got home
that day, but at least I never got my hide
tanned, and shoved into a box under a bed.