Friday, October 31, 2003

The Apparition

A year ago, we laid our Sandi in the ground, on the last
golden day of Indian Summer. It has been a difficult year
and we were amazed to go for another trip around the sun before
we could let go of our deep ties here, even though Sandi moved on,
gracefully and with courage.

This poem tells the story-- It is from The Atlantic Monthly:

The Apparition

True to his word, our vet
comes in late afternoon
and kneels in a slant of sun.
A pat, a needle stick
stills the failing heart.

We lower the ancient form
to the hemlock-shrouded grave
and before the hole is brimmed
set a layer of chicken wire
to guard against predators

so that the earth we broke
reforms, a mild mound.
The rock we place on top,
common glacial granite,
is mica-flecked and flat.

That night the old dog works
his way back up and out,
gasping, salted with dirt,
and barks his familiar bark
at the scribble-scratched back door.

I pull on shirt and pants,
a Pavlovian response,
and stumble half awake
downstairs to turn the knob
where something, some mortal stub

I swear I recognize,
some flap of ear or fur,
swims out of nothingness
and brushes past me
into its rightful house.

--Maxine Kumin

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