Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers

I read this book to the boys awhile back. The book is about a creature that lives in the Northwoods. The Hodag is 40 feet tall, has the head of an ox, feet of a bear, back of a dinosaur, and tail of an alligator. He is, however, not terrible at all. He is sweet and gentle and loves to eat blueberries. The loggers of the Northwoods, led by Olee Swenson, love and respect the beast. So when city slickers come to catch the infamous Hodag to send him off to the zoo, the loggers have to take drastic action to save him. And the Hodag, unfortunately, has to scare the zoo keepers off- by roaring and chasing and generally being a monster, which he (apparently) is not.

Auggie shook in his boots, sucked his thumb harder, was rattled to the core. An escalation ensued- one with me yelling something about 'there's no such thing as a Hodag. It's made up. It does not exist! Now go to bed' and, him crying harder, 'he's here in the house. I feel him.' I couldn't understand how he couldn't understand. It was my weakest moment as a mother. And I haven't been able to shake it.

So, of course, I write.

I've been carrying around this scene
deep in my pocket-
its edges are curled from reuse.
You are center stage
with a face painted red
from exasperated panting.
Backstage is your brother,
watching in support,
lisping the words along with you.
And I regret
every time I uncrumple that night
that I didn't lay sooner,
next to you;
that I didn't pull back
the curtain of your fears,
or shush them silent,
to prepare you for
the next time they wriggle free,
from under your bed.


  1. Not shitty at all Hussy! Heartfelt.

  2. she of the NorthhillsFebruary 5, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    not being a Hodag nor a mother, i can only imagine the difficulties of constantly choosing when to roar and chase versus when to be sweet and gentle. but it seems important to be capable of all of the above, sprinkled with honest self-reflection.

    now go eat some blueberries.