once my brother
skinned a gopher
and we dried the tiny hide
on a rock
under the prairie sun

the pelt hardened
and curled at the edges
and later we made
little pouches
with strings
woven through their tops
to hang them
around our necks

he quickly forgot
about the gopher
but I kept going back to its
beady little eyes
staring out from the
mess of blood and entrails
all I could think about was
how its baby would feel
when he discovered
it was all up to him now

my brother gave up
his budding future
in taxidermy
when the maggots
moved in
and took over
our pouches
as if they were
furry sleeping bags
we hadn’t dried them
long enough i guess and
it quickly became obvious
the profession required
more patience
than he had

while the larvae
were repulsive
i shunned that career
because I couldn’t
stand the thought
of nervous baby gophers
twitching their tails
and peeking desperately
out of their holes
while hawks patrolled
from the blue sky overhead
and how cold they would be
without a warm body
to curl against

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