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Trees still shade the road
where Gramps and I once rode
in his old green car -- I drove --
on dusky early evenings
in my fifteenth year.
We stopped, as he insisted, at every spot
where an armadillo rooted
among the tender greenery in ditches.
I was dispatched,
armed with Gramps' strong wood cane,
to kill a pesky armored creature
by striking hard, once, upon its snout.
Gramps waited in the car,
called encouragement or condemnation:
"That's it! Hit him hard!" or
"Can't you do a damn thing right?"
He knew i didn't like to kill
but was determined to toughen up
my softness and thought I was unaware.
That hard old man was not accustomed
to being crossed or contradicted.
But part of him was me, was tender,
and he had a sense of what was right
in the bayou country of his day.
How could I tell him that I hated
killing just to please him?
Often, I killed, then killed again.
But, sometimes, I'd miss the snout
or be slow to follow up,
and permit an armadillo to escape.
At times, I'd temper force with moderation --
I'd stun the creature, fling it far into dense
bushes to revive and live another day.
My grandfather eyed me darkly then,
but often kept his peace.
He gave me the treatment
I would give those stunned armadillos.
Could he have felt the same
toward me as I toward them?
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"Stunning Armadillos" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 2 Dec. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/85277/stunning-armadillos>.