by Kenneth Pobo
I’m only half groundhog. My other half is human. At least my hog side is less prone to cruelty. I generally try to keep out of sight.
I have four legs, brown fur, but I’m six feet tall. I’m a vegetarian. Why do fully human people sit in houses? Why not go where a low growing Kent Belle bellflower in Mrs. MacCrackers’ garden makes the mouth water?
It’s a challenging life—no one wants to hire a groundhog man so I don’t work. I have no car or mortgage. I’m not a bum. You think it’s easy being this tall and living in a hole? I have to dig for a terribly long time. Look at my hand paws—worn away by constant digging. This Pennsylvania clay doesn’t help.
You will envy me one thing: sleep. While you pay heating bills and scrape ice off your windshield, I sleep. December, January, February—sweeeet! In spring I remember my dreams. Who needs movies when dreams stay so vivid?
For a groundhog man, I’m pretty well educated. People always throw books away, so I take them back to my hole. I taught myself how to read. Ask me anything. I can quote the prologue to The Canterbury Tales.
I’m fairly friendly, but people see me from porches and come out running and screaming. Can’t they afford my few nibbles? They eat big dinners, usually animals they’ve cooked, yet I eat a baby sunflower and you’d think I was the neighborhood terrorist.
It’s not only people. Try getting a date. No other groundhog will have me for a lover. I look weird to them. I don’t smell right. I’ve heard some people like furry guys, but I haven’t found one yet I can get back to my hole and they never let me in their houses.
I will probably die alone. Unless I find another like me. I’ve been looking—hard. I picture myself dead in my hole, which come to think of it would be convenient—no need for a burial when I come pre-buried. I’ll just start decaying and green up the trees.
Everyone has a dream. I read that in a Reader’s Digest. Mine is to fly though I know this dream won’t come true. Just once, if I could leave the Earth, get a cloud’s point of view. Or shock a crow when she sees me above a willow. I sniff the dirt, my belly wet with dew. I’ve learned to be happy in the moment: heavy brush behind a shed, a few sprouts of lavender. It’s enough.
In my winter dreams I fly. No one shoots me down. I dig my burrow between clouds.