Old Glenn's Story
by Al Ortolani

I hid in the boxcars
across the road, close
to where we buried Flop
the black dog. My aunt
who had taken up with Henry
during hard times let me
slip out the backdoor
when his mood turned dark.
She said come back
when the light’s out,
after the “alone time.”
Henry ran a few head of cattle
in the scrub pasture
between the tracks and the road.
I bucked his hay bales
and broke his ice in January.
He taught captivity.
I wore his cigar bands
on my middle finger, but his smoke
stole into every soft cushion
in the house. In June
he tied a forked branch
around a calf’s neck
to keep it from straying
between loose strands of barbed wire.
My aunt sold the cow on the sly.
She stuffed the money
in her get-away tin.
The new owner came at night
after she’d snapped
the yoke branch and left the pieces
tangled in fence.

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