A Dog Called Sheba

I was six and wearing the pink silk dress my mum 
made with a little lace strip around the hem.  
Six with hair like fine, blonde spider web;  
six and having a birthday party and my memory is 
that Dad made toffees.  Mum says that can’t be true.  
Dad didn’t do much in the kitchen, she says. 
Those were the days when we had a cook 
and a gardener and a house with a
self-decapitating pawpaw tree. 

Maybe this is all a little mixed up but I remember
in those days the men went to work in the office up the road
(the office that mysteriously burned down years later).  
And they came home for lunch but there was no need 
for them to cook.  Anyway, what’s the fun of being six if you can’t 
remember a few things with sea anemones which
actually were daises.  Or just a random picture from a book?

So maybe it was Dad who made the toffees, 
standing over the little stove by the pantry
for the party with a low yellow table, outside 
under the acacia tree... and it was hot 
because it was always hot.  

If you listened carefully you could hear the sea 
sighing at the feet of the shy princesses on the shore
or at low tide there were hundreds of metres
of bubbling mud flats. Like the butter and sugar, 
watched by Dad in the kitchen, stirring intently.  
Pouring the mix into patty pans.  

Maybe I only think Dad made them because
it was he who rescued the dog who stole one.
It was a black dog called Sheba.  That I’m sure of.  
And the monkeys watched from their big cage, 
picking nits off each other’s heads, their
wise eyes totally unsurprised. We didn’t have a dog.  
We had cats – found cats – mostly from the golf course.  
Bangka didn’t have pet shops or vets or dog breeders.  
Animals were just something that circled ‘round 
for money or love or food or in sadness or neglect.  
So we had 3 cats but our neighbours had a dog

and it was Dad who had to prise her jaws apart
after she stole a toffee off the low yellow table.
Dad has a history of bonding with dogs
and it was definitely he that gently took the sticky
gold sweet from her mouth with its patty pan soggy
and tooth-holed and the neat round object 
mangled and bent.   But maybe Dad didn’t make
the toffees...  I suppose I could be wrong.
But it was a very memorable party, 
even if I’ve forgotten who made the toffees.

Written for NAPOWRIMO Day #17’s daily (optional) prompt. This one was developed by the comic artist Lynda Barry, and it asks you to think about dogs you have known, seen, or heard about, and then use them as a springboard into wherever they take you.

8 thoughts on “A Dog Called Sheba

  1. I was 8. The neighbour’s dog was named Sheba. A big white fluffy Samoyed who shed so much hair that the squirrels collected it to line their nests. That dog followed me to school (as I rode my bike) and seemed to know when school let out, because he was waiting for me. Yes, Sheba was a he – the owner named him before snooping out his details, and he liked the name so it stuck. Anyway, he was neutered, so I guess Sheba was appropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

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