I cannot even find my picture of you,
Sitting in your favorite chair,
The place you would go
To eat your peanut butter sandwich after your walk.
Damn you for getting old,
For stinking, for dying,
Slopped about the house, black and white,
Licking peanut butter off the roof of your mouth.
You loved to walk, scratching the wall,
The leash hanging above,
Still like death but standing in heartbreaking anticipation.
The restraint that so often muted your collie instincts marks your grave,
hanging on a green stake above.
A small but stunted tree struggles right next to it, above you.
Was it the noose that held you back, or have you finally broken free of stinking, aging,
You were a sweet animal among the cruel human
And the psychopathic nature of Nature.
The sound of your nails tapping the floor,
The sound of you scratching,
And, yes, licking peanut butter off the roof of your mouth.
You, it, had a rhythm that gave predictability to the unpredictability of life.
Your eyes, that of a Border Collie,
Big and brown, full of feeling,
Teared up once, when I
Yelled at you.
You died alone;
I remember patting you on the head,
your labored but soft puffing.
You tried to hang on to the beauty of life,
an oft-stealth flicker in this vast and timeless universe.
I remember the day I got you.
You cried for mom,
and my fleeting-child parenting skills went
A wash when you peed in
My mom put you next to hers,
In a box we got from the dollar store,
And you became her
Fourth son and my third brother.
And I let you die alone;
I couldn’t handle death,
The death of my friend, brother, and of my childhood.
I turned up the radio to block out the sound of the approaching
Reckoning for you and for all of us.
Being denied leave for a dying son,
My mother went to work while I went numb
And blocked out life.
As silence engulfed my room.
I no longer heard breathing from you.
There you lay,
A fragment of the brother you were,
But I summed up courage and mummified you
With the discount plastic garbage bags from the dollar store.
One over your bottom, and a plastic bag over your head—
A head I often kissed and pet;
I taped the middle shut and carried you,
Like a sixty-pound baby into the freezer we call Buffalo.
I moved on the autopilot that abuse and harshness perfects.
We would put you in the ground, when life was awakening.