Sunday, May 21, 2017

when the animal dies

when an animal dies what is the last thought, the last coherence
is it that all is nature and that we return to nature
no matter how badly we defiled it.

some time ago my old dog Amos took a long time to die.
one morning, when I went to take him out, he couldn’t stand.
He was sixteen, almost seventeen, and I knew it was the end.

another dog sickened, several years earlier, and I took her, Sarah, to a vet
and waited for him to call and tell me it was time for her to go home.
I waited but no call came.

when I called his assistant said it would be a few days
I was looking forward to holding her again; she was eight years old and
I was planning her declining years and how we’d exercise and eat right and live forever.

then the call came, one Saturday morning,
saying that she had died in the night.
I covered her snarling face in her blanket and carried her home hiding my tears.

I wonder what her last thoughts were
or if she saw demons and tried to fight them off
and looked to me to have her back and assure her they weren’t real.

but I wasn’t there and the words occurred to me
that I had abandon everyone and everything I had ever loved
so why would she expect any different.

so I waited out the long nights
watching my old dog Amos die, wondering if I was doing right.
I talked to him and held him and sang to him in my atonal voice.

he always liked it when I whistled so I whistled to him as I puttered around the kitchen
cleaning his messes and offering him the water he lapped while staring
into my eyes.

for a week he would eat nothing
then one night, when I was eating a piece of bread, his eyes asked
and I gave him some and he ate as if he was starving, as he was.

but he soon stopped this and all I could do to warm a little milk 
to dissolve his pain medicine in
he lapped it slower and slower and I slept less and less.

every time I left him I hurried back
expecting that he would be gone and maybe I hoped it would be so
but he held on and if he fought demons he did so in silence, unmoving.

one night I lay on my bed and suddenly awoke to see it was first light on easter Saturday
I ran down the steps and he looked up breathing slowly and uncertainly
in a puddle of drool.

once again in my weakness I had abandon one I loved
he looked up at me and I cleaned him and stroked him and cried and whistled and sang
and told him how good he was.

after a while his breathing labored further
and I sat on the floor beside him as I had for so many nights and days
and he turned his head away from me and breathed no more.



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