Small packages (A real-life fable for moms everywhere)

My mom found the
dead chipmunk
I surreptitiously brought home
from the lake
at the end of the summer
I was ten;

lifeless, stripe-tailed rodentChipmunk reads ingredients
in a black-and-blue JC Penney
shoebox sarcophagus on which
I had scrawled ‘stuff’ – an
obvious adolescent admonition to
‘keep out!’ in bold, black
Magic Marker

The chipmunk was well-preserved,
lifelike, in death, eyes wide open.
I, the accidental taxidermist.

A car, perhaps Ivar’s Jeep, had
run him over on the long
driveway leading to
Ivar and Lila’s lake home
catching him dead-on from
behind as he was in full-gallop,
running uphill in the sandy
right-rut, flattening his
chipmunk carcass into
absolutely flat,
cookie-cutter perfect silhouette,
all four paws outstretched

Faux-bearskin rug
fit for use before the hearth of
Barbie’s Alpine Chalet

With two sticks I gently
moved him to the cement fringe
of the garage slab where the
north woods sun used July to bake
him into perfectly-tanned,
odorless, furry, hide

Chipmunk2I placed chipmunk in the shoebox
secretively transporting him home
in our appropriately-solemn
dark-blue, Plymouth Fury
then slid him, sans funeral fanfare
beneath-my-single-bed-mausoleum
where he was soon forgotten

Until the week before school

Archeologist mom,
cleaning my room, found the box
did not share my
enthusiastic solemnity

She phoned up the block
to where I was playing,
tersely ordering me home

Mrs. Gilberg stifled a laugh as
as I left, nonchalantly and
very unaware of the consternation
awaiting me at home
(as she doubled over in laughter
telling me, years later)
once I had gone out her door
as my mom had confided in her
of the Tut-like, bedroom discovery

Once home I caught
all sorts of hell about
dead animals, germs,
unwelcome surprises in
shoeboxes under beds

But to my mom’s
everlasting credit, I at least
never got my hide tanned,
put into a box,
shoved under a bed.

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2018
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