Small packages (An allegorical, 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 rodent
in a black-and-blue JC Penney
chipmunkshoebox sarcophagus on which
I had scrawled ‘stuff’ in obvious
‘keep out!’ black Magic Marker

He was well-preserved, lifelike.
I, the accidental taxidermist.

A car, perhaps the Jeep, had
run him over on the long

driveway leading to Ivar and Lila’s

catching him dead-on from
behind as he was in full-gallop,
running uphill in the sandy
right-rut, flattening his chipmunk
carcass into a faux-bearskin rug
fit for use before the hearth of
Barbie’s Alpine Chalet

Absolutely flat, a
cookie-cutter perfect
silhouette, all four
paws outstretched

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

I placed the chipmunk in the box
for transport home in our solemn,
dark-blue, Plymouth Fury
then slid him, sans fanfare, into
under-my-single-bed-mausoleum
where he was soon forgotten

Until the week before school
archeologist mom was 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, non-challantly
and very unaware
(doubled over, she told me,
laughing still, years later)
once I had gone out her door
as my mom had confided in her
of her Tut-like discovery

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

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

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