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Zeldie Ruth Rathbone

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     -What ya reckon Zeldie Ruth? Sun, she hot, no? Lots afoot.

     Easter Monday early peoples shoots a breeze. Car, she got hurry, place ta be. We be porch sittin’, take a ray. Bells be toll, and clouds be roll, and crows be swoopy flap from ridge tile high. Zeldie nose be swivel twitch, snout be shimmy ta sniff the air, and listen out for something cook wi’ them pointy ear. Times them be right angle attention ears and points straight on up ta the sky, then they be question with them forward tiltin’ forty-five degree.

     Zeldie make a long big yawn wi’ curly tongue be curl out far, like to chillens’ party hooty toot. Ears be pointy round-house swirl ta back, then near comes a gether at a tippy top wi’ a shiver a fore them comes back, and tongue she come rollin’ right back in. Them plenty teeth be pearly white and like ta wolf, and fit ta scare you proper at tip a the yawn. But she a pussy, no nip and bite. She a barker, no mistake, a cause she scare when them stranger come. Times she be yawnin’ grace fully then flop down sudden ta lick a bum. She a gal got lots ta say mornings at open big front door. She be steady look for more, for friendship, interest, fun and sport. Zeldie love ta live a life but sorry, me, I’m don’ be too sure.

     Crows be eatin’ on a green, them cornflake sprinkle past a date. Them got time and don’t be rush. Sure and steady, peck and jab. Times they be magpie even, seagull, too. But the day just them black boys works away, cleans a whole world, leaves her shine.

     -Fresh and clean for you and me Zeldie. Fresh and new for me and you. What that thing you chewin’ on now? Whole time, I do got ta look. Take the care you dinna choke and poison be, cos you’s a minger wi’ them dirty stuff. Eats the shit and likes ta roll in any stinky dead old thing. Wi’ glass and nail and splinter bone, you keeps me steady on me toe. Me eye be on ye day and day ta stop them bad thing come what may. Angry car and baby pram, scare old lady and tangle jam wi’ neighbour dog be chase a ball.

     -Now you sniffs them potty plant be cluster at a big front door ta not forget ta water more. Times them thin and scraggy bone from bad plant mammy you may say, and you be right and no mistake. I’m gots ta take them better care. But me head up there in a cloud and just don’t see them sad and broken down. Weed be choke and stems be broke and I’s neglectful of them’s need. You far better, I gots ta say. Likes ta sniff and study long, notes a change from day ta day. You knows them babies knows ‘em well. Gives good lovin’, tender care. Mornings newly at a door, you makes a rounds ta lick and smell, ta see ‘em doing well. Time you takes to love em so and taste a rain water that make ‘em grow.

     Here come big grandson on a phone. Him ta shop was while ago, and now him comin’ home wi’ bag a shop goods in a hand. I’m thinks goodies, chocolate egg, but him come over for howdy do, say pom pom purties him gone make for lunch for Mam and Daddy, sisters too. Them pom pom I’m never heard.

     -Cool they be, him say, and tasty good. Slice ‘em thin but not a whole way down. Steep ‘em then in water and salt. Take ‘em out and dry ‘em well, then shake on chillie, cumin and brush a flour, fry ‘em hot in a deep fat pan.

     Zeldie happy ta see him come, sit she pretty at a garden gate. Love a pattin’ and tickle chin. Lad he hurry and don’t come in, family hungry, gota ta make a shape. Long terrace houses looky look, eyes wide open ta take in a day. Shingles makes ‘em long brown frown, low forehead like to them Neanderthal. Them frets and worries, mutters and tuts. Big front doors wi’ pucker lips like Donald Trump got lots a say with that there doorways porchy talk ‘bout world and weather and rugby club.

     -Why them take that hawthorn hedge?

     It were lovey and home for bird. Tit and finches and happy nest, but rugby took em and now on wide open car park we gots ta look. Canny wait ta see them big sycamore and lime tree ‘long a road put on them leaf and come all fluffy and shady shade and hide a rugby wrecking ball. But there you gots it. Industry. Development don’t leave nothin’ be. Gots ta dig up and pull, pull down with all them back hoe and JCB. Ah, this ole world she go ta hell.

     I’m feel a sprinkle on me shoulder blade. Tinkle trickle, but we don’t got rain. Turns around ta pots a wild garlic, rosemary and thyme. Baby sycamore in a pot a chive, she be shy and tap me on a shoulder ta say hello. Cuppla insect be buzz about. Zeldie like ta stick in a snout. But them be tricky-quick and she canny catch, though she be keen ta concentrate. Yellow cat don’t pay no heed, he be hot and heavy in a heat, and him just wants ta meditate.

     Come quiet moment and sun she deep, slow burn on me jumper and bare forearm. Sun’s love burn a winter away, and we got time ta sit all day. Hope a summer and I starts ta strip, and church bells they be make a tune. Sound like Angelus must be noon. I’m got broken down sculptures along a fence made a driftwood and razor clam. One time lovey with sea glass green and blue and music too but years a weather now wears em down and takes em home.

     Yellow cat be lick a bum. Dog be yelp not far away. Play date mate for Zeldie Ruth. She be shiftin’ in a porch. Say, sun too hot and I be scorch! She give me a look with that there eyeball stare. Green plastic garden chair stack up at a gate. Three tennis ball on a new-cut lawn. She be winter patchy and lots a hole. Zeldie breed, them she love ta dig and bury, bury and dig. She love ta chase a car, and like to farm dog slink down low. Like to whippet, she run up a wind. She be young’un, twelve month now, lots a fun and cuddles but not much sense. Zeldie Ruth be rescue pup and she do like ta sniff a stuff and chase a birds and watch for movement on a roof.

     Visitor come ta number eight. Yappy dog in back a the car. Zeldie edgy, barkin’ cough like ta espresso coffee pot. Say,

     -Who you be and what you do? This my garden din you know?

     Zeldie Ruth gots clever nose. Sniff a rosemary, sniff a thyme. Flowering currant, she wait her turn. Zeldie know me through from through, from break a day to sleepy time. She watch me close ta learn a rule, she find a meaning in what I’m do. She love ta watch me mornin’ time from brush a teeth ta comb a hair and make them eye wi’ pencil kohl. She do lie upon a bed and know that mornings when I be done, soon she surely have the fun. With walk and talk and see a world and meet a matie ta wrestle and flop about in pal’ back yard wi’ high wood fence so she canny get out.

     ‘Tricity and phone wires be cross and hatch and whirly gig notation ‘gainst a sky. Makes me dizzy, makes me fly way wi’ me mind ta edge a this here world, makes me free-floatin’ little girl. They be base and treble clef and crows be minim, crotchet, semi breve. That there music sometimes do me in. Zeldie love them hole in a hedge. Want to burrow in ta barb wire ledge. Love ta wedge her wee self in, love ta worm a wheedling way. Zeldie ears them talks a lot. Tons ta say with listen up good. Times she know that she be bold then she be cower way down low wi’ them pointy flat flat back and she be slinky, sorry say. Zeldie tongue she love ta wash, job she do be thorough true. Curl she round me finger, hand, not one speck do be neglect. She lap and lip and curl and know every inch what she do lick and every smell as that can be. Now she point a look ta say,

     -What you do and what you see?

     Zeldie Ruth she stretch out long though small she be and frisky too. Her snout be long and lean, and cold damp nose be learn a lot from smell and taste and history. Beady browns be look and see, and eyebrows times be sad and question look. Zeldie she got sideburn too, be fluffy cute like to feather down. I’m do loves ta belly stroke though it do be bare a fur. How she love a rub a tum. Zeldie Ruth Rathbone she do be, and Lordy she do love a bone! Gal do gnaw for hour and hour. Yellow cat be slinky in, and Zeldie ups and tilt a head, attention be. Them eyebrow puckers and lifts and falls. Patch a white under bottom lip.

     Zeldie Ruth Rathbone she like ta sit, prop a snout on me arm and leg. She do sit so for hour and hour till time come ta move on ta some good thing. Zeldie love ta chew and dig, croc and slipper don’t got hope. Pen and pencil, toothbrush, specs, plastic packing, paper plate. She be up at a window for look see look. Nosey neighbour, she look for fun when visit come ta number one.

     Zeldie she gots skinny pins and front paws they be ten to two. She like to ballerina stiff walkin’ up path ta door. But no mistake, she run up a wind when she a mind ta stretch a leg and chase them cat or car or interest tweakin’ thing.   

     Squat she dainty ta make a stool. Tail be quiver on horizontal straight out back. She be balance like to circus gal, waiting patient for a turd slip out. She do make ‘em groups a three, but not all in a same place, if you please. Move she totter towards the end, and number three come wi’ out a friend. I be waiting wi’ me pooper bag, lift ‘em sprightly and ditch a bag. Pick her up when we comes back. She like a long grass and the new-cut lawn, lots ta smell and scratch and taste and eat. Gots ta watch her at a daffodil, they be poison, I’m hear ‘em say. When she stretch out she long and lean. She be small and frisky like to whippet but whippet she don’t be. She my soul mate no mistake. Love me sideways and up ta the sky. I choose Zeldie, she choose me. She me dog for therapy.   

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