She was thirteen, I was six
We’d gotten her through an infection
Still the days of putting your dog out the front door
To patrol the streets nightly
She’d jump the fence anyway
Still the days of no vets
Unless the beast somehow earned its keep
We were pretty sure it was heartworm
I’d followed her that day
Caching a bone
Mincing through trash cans, a connoisseur
Daddy’s friend Jeff was over for dinner
Paper plates lining straw forms
Iceberg salad potato salad a slice of ham a glass of milk
He played catch with her and she
Raced, tongue hanging, until dinner was ready and she
Flopped at our feet
Adoring ham
She twitched once, then twice, then seized
Thwacking her tail against the wall
Like we got her ticklish spot
But the rest of her
Jangling strangling
Then pale
My uncle tried some CPR
This was 1974, remember
But he picked it up in Vietnam and
Never put it down.
Karen could secretly slip a candy bar out of your hand
But there was no dodge for this
Mom sewed a shroud to
Elevate the internment above a
Carcass in the dirt.
Jeff wondered if it was his fault as they shoveled and
Never visited again
Daddy read some Travels with Charley
She used to barf in the car too when
Conditions were wrong
David read some Thurber
We tried not to laugh and gave that up for
Joe across the street came over to commiserate, asked what happened
And a flame-headed cousin just getting the hang of talking said
“Like this!” and hit the ground jerking
It wasn’t his
Kind of funeral
David threw in a
Galvanized lid and a can of Borax she was a
sneaky dirty garbage eating hound
By which he meant epitome of doghood
I dug up that bone again, and gave it back to her
We lifted the shovels
Not a dry eye in the house
Slid the dirt back in
Nothing left of laughter but
Sad quirks on our chins

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