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I saw my father in the dying of the dog.
It was a slow, intentional, graceful death
that stretched itself out over months,
all the while breaking daddy’s heart.
The dog began to walk slowly,
as if he were dragging his feet through honey.
Each step was lifted, suspended above the ground a moment,
placed gingerly back.
Then, the lump on the back of his leg appeared,
boiling up and presenting itself in what seemed like a moment.
After that, the sleeping.
He had always enjoyed basking in the Alabama sun out on the deck, but it became his only activity.
Sleep, eat, sleep, drink, sleep. That was his routine.
He began to ignore the little dog,
growling at her when she wanted him to play.
After a while, his light naps became deep sleep at all hours of the day. We often had to knock loudly on the window
just to make sure he would wake up again.
One day when we went to feed him,
he didn’t come at the sound of the food striking the metal bowl.
As soon as we touched him, we knew.
He left soundlessly, forever frozen in his favorite position,
curled up innocently by the window.

My father became a strange parallel to him.
When the dog slowed,
Daddy slowed.
His thoughts were soupier, taking longer to formulate into full sentences when he spoke.
He often forgot to eat, and when he remembered,
he rarely finished his meal before moving on to something else.
He spent most of his time in his red recliner, lying perfectly still.
He snapped at innocent questions and simple gestures addressing him, and could no longer tolerate loud talking or music.
He withered as the dog withered, slowly but surely.
They both grayed around the eyes,
a marking of wisdom, but also of age.
They were one soul split into two bodies, though one found a peaceful escape.
Daddy stayed here.
forgive me, but i cannot comprehend
why little bird, age 9
should ever need to understand
the historical origins of terrorism
the significance of the Socratic method
the inner workings of microeconomics
or the implications of nuclear war.

no, my little bird, age 9
can hide right behind her golden ringlets
and sunshine eyes
for as long as she wishes.
she learns the politics of friendship
and the importance of kindness
and that's all we truly need
to get by.
she doesn't see the bigger picture,
she cannot empathize with the suffering of nations
(she flies too high above it all to see).

she doesn't see all of the the *******, either.

not all ignorance is blissful,
but little bird's is.
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pur whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the ****** and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to ***** up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do
little dark girl with
kind eyes
when it comes time to
use the knife
I won't flinch and
i won't blame
as I drive along the shore alone
as the palms wave,
the ugly heavy palms,
as the living does not arrive
as the dead do not leave,
i won't blame you,
i will remember the kisses
our lips raw with love
and how you gave me
everything you had
and how I
offered you what was left of
and I will remember your small room
the feel of you
the light in the window
your records
your books
our morning coffee
our noons our nights
our bodies spilled together
the tiny flowing currents
immediate and forever
your leg my leg
your arm my arm
your smile and the warmth
of you
who made me laugh
little dark girl with kind eyes
you have no
knife. the knife is
mine and i won't use it
clearly there is damage
in the mechanics
of our interlaced hearts.

savor me
roll my words around in your mouth
like marbles
and dream of the taste of my skin
and the bite of winter
on the tip of my nose and lips.

do not break apart my words
like ice
still, staring, fragmented in anger;
do not tear me
from afar, with your words
assumed unheard, but screamed
to the ends of the earth.
do not assume i am unfrozen
fluid and unattached
to the sound of your voice.

remember me
in lace and wonder and December
in beauty and imperfection;
or forget
that i am far, far away
in pain, from missing and being unmissed.
or that i exist, altogether.

clearly there is damage
in the mechanics
of our infinity
wrinkled and unraveled before us.
Easily, easily she crept into my mind.

She smelled of the crunch of autumn leaves under boots, or rain on pavement, or possibly both together. I can’t distinguish between the two in the weakness of my memory. I’ve always wished there was a way to capture a smell like a picture, just to savor now and again. I would replay her entrance over and over in my mind if I could. I admit this one regret, though I try never to regret what brings me to the place in which I am still standing. I regret not savoring my own picture of her first appearance into my consciousness.
O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it ware ten thousand mile.
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