The White Shoe Irregular:
It was fun while it lasted.

Voices from Nature

Matt Summers

PART ONE: A Letter from Some Stray Dog

Dearest Pumpkin,

Yes, it was good seeing you, as well. If only we had more time.

Things are fine around here. There's some deer with a briefcase and a customized pen and tree-scented stationery who lives in or at least near this field. He writes notes and leaves them around. Like this one:


Feel free to walk in this meadow, but please refrain from eating the grass, as I plan to eat it.


Some Deer

I often see these attached to tall grass or trees. And when the wind kicks up, the notes flap, although they stay in the same place. He must have some tape or a stapler.

How is Borneo?

All yours,

Some Stray Dog

P.S. I saw some stray cat eat some grass and didn't do a thing about it.

·  ·  ·

PART TWO: A Chipmunk's Life

At times, on the prairie, looking at the sunset, I realize that, yes, sometimes the best music is that which is not heard. Before it turns dark, I scurry toward the den.

I am a chipmunk. I have the teeth. I have the four legs and fur. Where did all this fur come from?

My mother is a chipmunk. I never met my father. That's just the way it is. I assume he is or was a chipmunk. I've never heard otherwise.

When I play sports with other chipmunks and prairie dogs in the JCSL (Junior Chipmunk Smashball League), Mom says, "You'll either win or lose, that's the way it goes."

The prairie can be cruel.

The nights are warm. I have twenty-two brothers and sisters and one mother.

Jerry from the prairie helps out. He gathers us around and tells us stories about tornadoes and tumbleweeds. He makes funny voices. We bark when he says something we know is right, something that is exactly what we want to hear. His tornado impression is the best. But Jerry's a prairie dog.

Once, I met a marmoset traveling from Borneo who said, "Prairie dog, chipmunk, what's the difference?"

I've been to Vail. I ski. When I ski, I do my moves. People clap as if I have stood a pin needle, pointy end down, on a fat magnet.

"That's impossible!," they say, just before their jaws drop slack.

It's not impossible, just resplendent.

I've done a few things. I've torn trees in half. I hold the single season smashball records for most smashballs and greatest smashball. I've swallowed lightning.

Maybe Dad comes back at night. He sticks his head in the den, hears us breathe. Maybe a poacher got him. Maybe a coyote. Maybe he acts in cereal commercials. Maybe they pour milk on him. Steady food, steady money.

I scurry back into the den. We're all here.