Some Kind of Beginning
Sunni Brown Wilkinson

The alfalfa fields had their own luster
and, after all, no one came
for any harvest.  Instead, as children, we drifted
a golden sea with monarchs, my brother waving
his net like a sail.  We floated past
clumps of aspen – tiny islands –
and other children, on their swing sets and trampolines,
were strange natives whose language
we chose not to utter.  Little pilgrims
in our faded jeans and Keds
we navigated past our abandoned tree house,
past the chokecherries oozing
their droplets of blood, the sticky splendor
my mother caught and wrung
into jelly, jam, syrup,
past the knotted tree trunk crouched
like a lost ogre trying to hide at the foot
of the mountains, until we reached it,
the grave.
And here we stopped

my brothers and me
to run, dance, laugh over the tombstone
of an almost forgotten dog.
Rather, meaning his name.  Meaning
I’d rather bury my bones in the dark. Or
I’d rather lie here asleep.  A tiny tombstone
reading: “Rather, a dog who deserved
far more than he got.”
Then, in the quiet of chewing
our sandwiches, swallowing
green punch, we sensed the spirit of the great dog
rise up and beg to us
a moaning beg, painful beg.  And with a reverence
fitting our Sunday School lessons
we listened, knowing of God
and the afterlife, the inevitable judgment
of all creatures.  But even then

at the mouth of the canyon
the bulldozers started
their engines.
The alfalfa fields trembled.
I think it was then,
without our knowing it,
mortality came to us.
Dirt over a rough grave.  The whir
of approaching machinery.  
The anguish of swallowing it all for lunch
with so much laughter to spare.

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