Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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I dug the hole and the dog watched
me dig the hole for her.
The light was hot and the dirt was red
in the hole I dug. I’m sure

she didn’t know it was a grave,
and I’m guessing she didn’t know
it was for her, but I know she knew
that she would have to go

and soon. I wonder where she thought
that she would go? We often
ascribe to animals a higher
knowledge, a way to soften

the blow of our own ignorance
perhaps (someone must know!),
but what if they’re just more comfortable
in the dark than us? They throw

everything at survival until
they suddenly don’t survive,
or they slowly don’t survive in Ellie’s
case, but they know their lives

are the one thing they have for sure. And I
suppose that that is knowledge
of the higher variety, a kind
that takes a kind of courage

to live behind. So maybe she did
know the hole was for her.
Maybe she knew how I’d carry her
empty body of fur

that evening, after the vet had left,
shit staining the sheet I’d wrapped
it in, to the hole I’d dug for her,
how her body would be trapped

by the weight of the dirt she used to dig in.
Maybe she knew I’d made
the hole I’d dug for her so deep,
in the stretching evening shade

of an oak, that I’d have to get in the grave
myself to set her down,
that I’d have to lean over her empty body
and arrange it in the ground.

Maybe she knew that even though
she was gone I would arrange
her empty body in the hole
I dug for her in the strange

shape of some final kind of comfort.
And maybe she knew I’d find
I was only comforting myself,
and maybe she didn’t mind.  

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