How to Bury a Dog
Joseph Bathanti

Put to bed the children early.
The moon refuses such toil.

Arcturus will stand you the proper light.
Fall to your knees.

Let your wife's hair grieve
your mouth as you hold her.

She'll swear she hates everything.
Don't say a word.

Choose a place among the loblollies
where the first sun burns

the cornflowers blue.
Take the long-handled shovel

and the garden spade,
the mattock and the maul.

A shotgun will do – 12 gauge Federal –
for what you'll be digging in:

millstone grit studded with milk crystal quartz.
It will suffer your hands.

At grave-time, dirt is coy,
not a fit place to leave what you love.

You won't cuss through three feet
until you spark off a shelf

of sediment rock that's been making
since the Yadkin lived here.

Resist the temptation
to wrap him in cerements.

Face him east.
Let the earth do its work.

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