The stories I like best
about my father involve animals.

The one about the sorrel mare named Sugar,
who he trained and tended til he turned 16
and sold to a local girl because owning a car was cooler.
That the girl won first place with her a year later,
and Dad’s mustang, well, that’s another story.

Some represent lessons of death:
When my father buried his turtle in a sandbox once he thought it had died,
but his older brother’s natural curiosity caused him to chop his apart with an ax,
how Floyd’s turtle resurrected in the spring,
but Don’s never had a chance.

And how my Dad is no saint. How his Aries temper
got the best of him and he flicked an unruly hamster
on the head during a routine cage cleaning,
a fatal knock-out and possible homage to
the boxer Dad was named after.

He was never known to lay a hand on anyone,
despite life’s trials. My dad treated all
protectively, even the stray cat I coaxed home
who later gave birth to four kittens.
The first was stillborn, the second one assisted
by a vet, the last two ushered into our world
after my father learned how he had to help.