Property Of

When your father died last winter, I drove there as fast as I could. I even ran the only stoplight in town, bumped the cattle guard, passed the knot in the tree that looked like a pickle—till I made it inside your mother’s house, and there you were, with your perfect little baby face against an upstairs window. You were surprised I came. You tripped down the stairs on your way to meet me and chipped your tooth. I was shaking in my boots that you’d somehow rope me into reading your father’s eulogy, or couldn’t do it proper, but you did it. We went to the church and turned down the dirt and ate some tiny sandwiches and then that’s when I saw them—the daisies. I saw that you saw them and that they meant something to you. I came empty-handed. It’s what you asked me to do—but it was wrong, wasn’t it? I can’t read you the way she could. I still wear the dog collar you made me—saying PROPERTY OF. It was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me for $3.99, but then, well, there were probably other women before me bearing a similar bone on their clavicle. I always wanted to be the first to colonize somebody. I never could learn that you put down your flags wherever you can but there’s plenty of moon.  

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