For the Sake of Dogs


When my sister over-
dosed and nearly died, her golden
retriever was curled up next to her in bed;
the other retriever too,
the old deaf and blind one, lay sprawled
out—guarding her bedroom door.
When the medics arrived to take her
away, the dogs wouldn’t
move—not even for a biscuit.

My mother has been to hell.
She came back with three Weiner dogs.
My other sister has seizures,
now she has a therapy dog.
Hell, we all have therapy dogs.

We have ashes from dogs,
ashes from humans.
We have been known to mix them,
bury them together.
Of course there are rules:
The dead human had to belong to the dead dog
(or vice versa).
The dog had to die first.
(I think that’s right.)
Right now, it’s all a mess:
We have a dead stepfather, his old Weiner dog;
a dead Miniature Schnauzer, her living partner;
a golden retriever puppy, his dead toddler.
My chocolate lab says,
Quit putting pictures of the dead kid on Facebook
and take me for a walk. By the way,
I don’t really like it when we spoon.

People say,
Your family must have a lot of faith.
Yes, I say, we have a lot of dogs.

Originally published in Lake Region Review, Vol.4

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