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 realize now in last week’s poem
I left everyone out.
I made it sound as if I were grieving
alone, as if the doubt

and worry and sadness were mine alone.
But of course the kids were there,
and Kate was there. We all watched
the dog’s heart stop, we shared

the air around her empty body;
they watched me in the grave
arrange her legs and face. So why
did I pretend to have

my grief without them, without Lois
shoveling dirt or Rache’s
tears or Jane Bell chalking hearts
on the paving stones we’d placed

on top of the grave? It seems almost
a quaint thing to bury a dog,
a thing cut, like pastry shapes, from family
stories, the epilogue

to a shared narrative of devotion.
So why did I try to horde it?
Maybe I was scared in my poem
that somehow I’d fail to record it,

that no one would recognize their grief,
the way you sometimes can’t
find yourself in a group photo,
or maybe I thought they’d want

to remember their sadness for themselves.
But that’s a stupid thought.
I knew I was cheating, and I probably knew
I’d eventually be caught

by Kate when I asked her to read the poem.
She’d probably have said
where are we? Where is the rainbow
Lois drew? Or Rache in the shed

getting the extra shovel? Or me
with my quiet and my quiet
crying? And I’d have had to say
I’m sorry; you were all right

beside me when I put us in
the hole I dug for us,
I mean for her. And there you go—
that’s the reason, I guess.

I thought I could save them all from being
dragged into the ground
again, from hearing the sound subtraction
makes, when it makes a sound.  

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