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|The Dog Went to the Country Is A Euphemism by Ethel Rohan|
I summered on my aunt’s farm because my dad worked and mother couldn’t cope. Cope and farm and aunt all dirty, four letter words. Words my aunt liked to throw at me: ruined and brat. Brat needed to know better, my aunt believed. Believed she could teach me with endless chores: collecting hens’ eggs, cleaning out the shit from the milk parlor, and making hay in yellow fields under the bully sun. Sun shined into her dusty dining room. Room where she fed me milk still warm from the cow’s bloodied teats; breads she made with lumpy buttermilk and dirty fingernails; and livers, tongues, hearts, and feet freshly removed from their beings. Beings: pigs, sheep, cattle, and chickens, their dying roars still rising from my plate. Plate heaped with foods that were a sin to turn my nose up at. At the end of summer, when it came time for my aunt and I to say goodbye, we’d cry. Cry because all over again, and despite everything, we’d grown attached to each other. True. True my aunt saw I needed fixing, but had no clue how. How do I account for my own tears, as honest as the diamonds of dew on morning grass? Grass as green as the envy she felt for me with all my youth, hardheadedness, and possibility. Possibility not a word she would ever have used. Used was how she felt. Felt that in my young bones. Bones of our skeletons we hugged. Hugged is not something that would have happened her nearly often enough. Enough is not a word she felt familiar with, unless it took the place of stop. Stop I put to those summers at sixteen. Sixteen seems so long ago now. Now she’s still there on that farm. Farm remains a bad word in my book. Book I could write about my aunt. Aunt to whom I would give a story that is bigger and better than her own. Own our past and move on, the guru says. Says, fine, yet there’s still the push and pull between summer and me, the prod of conscience that goads me to go visit my aunt one of these long, bright days.