The burial of a dog

July 24, 2014

The ground wouldn’t cooperate.
Shovels and steel spit clawed
at dry soil and rocks.
The earth was resisting
like it didn’t want the paws
and the tail
and the ears
and the cold carcass of yesterday’s love and sticks chewed into splinters and begging for table scraps and jumping to lick the face when you come home

Like it didn’t want pulling on the lead
and sitting on command
and play biting a bit too hard
and voiced discontent when people come home late in the night.

Steel sings its own song when it meets granite.

If there were sparks, they were invisible in the daylight.

Salt water from the pores
was mixing with that of the eyes.

You have to be methodical in your movement when the ground’s this hard.

He wasn’t alone, but in the end
he was the only one always there
when our dogs met their silence
in their cardboard coffins.

The search

December 5, 2010

We went out looking for Mary as the snow started falling. We had received no SOS and had been greeted by radio silence for years. Our chances were slim and we had no map or pointers, but we knew that finding her was our only chance. We shared a look of determination, as snow swirled around us in a current of yesterdays yearning to melt into black sludge on the ground.

Cold fingers were gripping the heart of the city, and the blood flow to the extremities had ceased hours ago. People were still all around us, mouths open, the paralysis of the sky spreading from face to face.

My jaw was set and so was his, although his tail was still held high. The pockets of my parka were filled with the necessities of the search – mobile phone, flashlight, beef jerky and liver snacks. My boots yearned to tread the sludge, and his paws had been rubbed in ointment to protect from the cold, salt and moisture.

We were looking for Mary, but we did not know where to begin. We had not heard from her for several years; the reason we were in this city was no reason. She had last been seen here by us, but that didn’t mean that she had not been seen later by somebody else, somewhere else. We shared another look of determination, I nodded at him and we set off.

All around us, the people were still, mouths open, bodies frozen solid already, and we navigated the street carefully. We knew that to touch them was death. To understand them was death too, and when he lifted his leg, letting the yellow stream hit a pair of frozen black suit pants, we became slightly more human.

The snow was still falling, and we were no closer to Mary when the disaster happened. My hat got caught on the outstretched claws of one of the frozen bodies and a snowflake hit my forehead, melting. The wetness brought back the memory of digging his grave and I remembered that he was gone. There was no sound, no movement, just frozen bodies surrounding me. The snowflakes fell silently.

I was alone in the city, the only warm soul left and I was cooling rapidly. I was no closer to finding Mary. I was no longer sure why I was looking for her. It was getting hard to move. People were still around me, frozen solid. 

I wondered where Mary was.