Abscess

A small abscess on the flank of the old country dog came to a head yesterday, big and white, the flesh around it purplish red. We noticed, passing through the long grass, and the long grass irritated him, brushing against it, its dry yellow green fingers grazing the angry lesion. So the old country dog twisted his shaggy neck and bit at himself. He snapped at the skin. Snapped, snapped until his teeth clopped together, the sound solid in the enclave formed by the grass, shielded from the wind. We, standing in the long grass, took the breeze full in our faces, our hair tickling our noses and chins. But the old country dog, down there in the rushes and mud, nibbled at his flesh to no relief. He couldn’t reach it, whining in his pain.

We bent down in a circle around him. He whined louder, and whined louder still when we laid hands on him. You cupped your hands to his head, put your lips in his hair. While we set about the abscess.

It was a fat, angry pustule. The blood and muck soaked our handkerchiefs when we were done. We left them in the dirt. I cleaned out the wound with the corner of my shirt, and you kept the old country dog’s chin in your hands to keep him from turning to bite. All the way to the far side of the field, at the border, you kept your fingers on his jaw. And I wound the strips of my shirt around his belly, to bind the wound, and the fresh red blood drying in his dirty fur.

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