Folklore

Tribal police picked up my uncle
the day after he hit a dog. He had
placed a note with his name and
number near its muzzle.

The police used words like vehicular
manslaughter and hit and run, insisting
he had left an old man on the side
of the road.

They showed him pictures of a twisted
brown body and, though the angles were
contorted, there were two arms and
two legs.

My uncle had moved the dog to a lawn,
feeling its fur and the soft-bodied ticks
that dotted its skin. It left his hands
smelling of urine.

It was dark, an officer said, the man was
naked, probably darted in front of you,
probably dementia. My uncle nodded,
thought his mind had cushioned the blow

of taking a human life. The officers
stepped out of the room, the dead man’s
daughter, a woman my uncle knew vaguely
from town, stepping in.

She asked what had happened. He
answered with what was believable, 
his eyes on a crack in the wall, avoiding
her middle-aged face. 

You hit a dog, saw an old coon hound,
she said in that slow tone used on toddlers
and drunkards. Some of the elders are
more attuned to nature.

She told him her father, tired of old age, 
had been tempting the road. She said,
It’s easier to kill a dog than a man.

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