The sour stinging smell of a new tennis ball.
Acrid and headachy. Delicate with newborn fuzz.
I toss, you retrieve, dog of my dad dead
three days now. I trimmed your mats and fed you
Campbells soup for lack of dogfood. You sniffed
his body, nudged him, maybe howled. When
no one came 12 hours later, did you sleep
beside him, or go to bed like I should, to pretend
it is a night like every other. Pretending life
continues. Breathe in, out. Waiting
for the stark, merciless sun.
Did his head sound like a dropped pyrex
bowl, heavy, resonating in circles,
a strange echoing thunk? Did the blood
move quick, then slow, clotting where it lands,
or did it drip from the wound
like black molasses? All I get,
as an answer, is a sticky wet
ball, green fuzz matted with bubbly drool
and an expectant look in your dark shooter
marble eyes that beg me to throw again.
Keep up the back-and-forth pattern, the art
of muscle memory. Highly practiced rhythm.
I wish you could tell me. I wish I could lift
the memory from between your ears, soft as
the skin inside my cheek I feel with my tongue
when nothing else will console me. Give me
your memory and I’ll hold
the pictures at arm’s length, afraid
and fascinated all at the same time, like
having a black, shining scorpion
held captive in a jar. Polished hypodermic
death. Such a little thing.