MY BROTHER BURIES HIS DOG
He moves furniture for a living, oversized bureaus and beds for the rich. He is big now and dumb with love that animals sense—cats, dogs, squirrels, birds, his pygmy turtles and rabbits, tree frogs—they all take him in, nuzzle his childhood scars, forgive his bad jobs and girlfriends. The middle child who grew up telling us all to fuck off—now a grown man, calls me crying, Why my puppy! (His Great Dane is dead.) He sobs, and I remember how we beat him—Mom, Dad, nuns, coaches, teachers—I know I did. And like animals before a storm, he has premonitions—this time a dream of me crying over Nina’s corpse. He says, I want you to think about that. He says it because I’m the godless eldest son who knows everything. So we carry his huge dead dog from the vet to his truck to his backyard. He digs a hole all day then lays her black body in the dark. Weeping, he seals her in with a last block of sod, and between the kiddy pool and the garage we embrace. He whispers, I love you. And in that moment I knew what animals know.
—from Rattle #21, Summer 2004