239. Warning

He was not supposed to wander,
Any more.
Riah’s strict instructions:
If the sky looks like a storm,
Come home.

James sighed.
She was spooked
By all the stories.
Monday’s duster, as the town
Heard tell, caught Mr. Bekins,
Walking, on his land.
Air thicked up so fast
And swirled around him,
He’d got lost–circled,
Hours, in his field.
Mrs. Bekins drove out
In the truck,
Went round all their acres,
Honking, honking. But
The wind had took the sound–
When that hits, heck,
James thought, can’t hear
Nothing; beats you
Like you was a drum,
Lifts and squashes, pushes,
Till you can’t tell up
From down–
He knew that much.

Mr. Bekins had been found….
A grown man….
But a boy?
Come home right away;
Come home, Riah’d said.
Mr. Bekins coughed up
Chunks of dirt, some
Size of a pencil. James had
Seen a piece
His daughter’d brought to class.

A rabbit?
Sitting out here,
Broad as day!
James stopped in his tracks,
Square on the path
And squinted hard.
Was it dead?
He bent low, cautious.
He would not get near
A dead thing. If–
But no. The wet
Nose quivered wildly:
It’s alive.
Beneath the brown fur,
He could see it
Breathe–breath or
A heartbeat, pumping
Up and down.
“Why don’t you run, Jack?”

James’ smile collapsed,
And he stepped back.
Ueasily, he rubbed his hands
Against his pants.
This animal was blind.
He didn’t need to test it;
He just knew. A rabbit
Didn’t look at you
Like that. Its eyeballs
Had been scratched at, scraped
Away, by last night’s sand.

Stomach churning,
He kicked at the dust:
“Stupid! Stupid!
Can’t you close them,
In the wind?”
Had its lids been shredded?
Had it been so frightened,
By the howling, that it
Strained to keep its guard up,
Watching for the unseen foe
Till it was blind?
And the blinder, the more
Frantic and confused?
It stared out till
The world had gone away?

James reached out his hand
And pulled some grass.
He nudged a clump
Beneath the creature’s head.
The rabbit, panting,
Held its breath in terror.
It would never eat.
He wrapped it in his jacket
To take home. Ma’d
Have a fit.

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