The Little Brown Helmet



As I sat in the drive, still behind the wheel

After a four hour drive, she opened the passenger door.

Smiling, she handed me something that

Through exhaustion and astigmatism

Looked like a little brown helmet.

Then you whimpered, looked up at me,

Suddenly barked as if to say "I am fierce and you must know it!"

Even then, only six weeks old and four pounds,

That zealous sound and the lucent eyes behind it captured my heart.

Festooned with a red bandanna, you strutted through the kitchen

Past a mystified great yellow cat and announced to a

Heap of sorted laundry that you were home and these clothes were yours.

However, you needed no beguiling to accept as a premium transaction

Their replacement by flannel sheets on an antique oak bed

Warmed by a seething fireplace.



On the coldest of winter nights

Snuggled under weighty hand-made quilts,

You claimed the warmest spot of all in the crook behind my knees.

What a shock at two in the morning when a cold nose touched to my nose

Led to a hasty exit for us both out the back door into the

Frosty dampness.

All through that winter, you slept, grew, and with one

Flop ear tuned to the music of the seasons, awaited

The spring you would for the first time see.




In summer, there came explorations of endless

Flowers and butterflies,

Ditches and pastures.

Later, there were other summers of canoe trips,

Cat fishing,

Pond swimming, all enriched by

Little rides to town for cheeseburgers hold the pickles.

Funny how your curiosity never

Ventured toward fast cars or ribbons of highway.

Scrambles through hedges and blackberries,

Playing chase and guarding stashes of bones

Were far too time consuming.



Thanksgiving brought you into the oak and flanneled bed by the fireplace with pains you had never known. All hurts had been dispelled there before, but we could only cradle your head and wipe your tears. Suddenly, out the door and under the house for three days, then four and then five. We welcomed you back with pizza and meatloaf as you announced the arrival of your five to match ours. With dip net in hand, I crawled beneath the house and inched my way toward the four whiners and one yeller (who indeed turned out to be yellow!) we had for some time heard each night from under the house. You claimed the flanneled bed as yours and theirs and ours that cold night and we all snuggled beneath the warm weightiness of handmade quilts as the fire crackled and hissed.





I look past

The moss-encrusted black walnut tree to

Quiet cedars with lazy




Kiss the ground beneath them.

I gaze down,

Into their lowest tips to the

Small green

Patch of zoysia

Silently bordered by white jonquils.

I know you are safe within flannel sheets




And brass-plated collar.

A snow


To drift


To you

From an icy

December morning

Lit by a full moon’s light.

I know I will forever miss that little brown


In the warm crook behind my knees.

nmhill © 1998

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