January 18, 2013

Susan F. Glassmeyer

ON OLD CONGRESS RUN ROAD

A lost Lab running inside her own black shadow,
sideswiped by a car going north on the pike,
then struck by a driver heading south.

I’m an accidental witness on this no-moon night,
busy with my own troubles, like anyone else.
I don’t want to hear the dog’s pinched howl
or her fitful whimpering after she drops
like fallen cargo in the middle of the road.

I want to turn away, but a pressing thought
pulls me over—Don’t be afraid of the suffering.
So I give up, sit down in the street, stopping traffic.
Wrap myself around the furry clock of the dog’s life
as if to stop the stream pouring out of her head.

Not dead, but dying, I tell the onlookers.
I say, Touch her. I say, Don’t be afraid.
A few hands join mine as we follow the rise
and fall of the animal body, the warm belly growing
cooler with each exhalation. Pain appears to be lifting.

Now, under the village lamplight, a stunning
pink foam, almost iridescent, spilling
from dog lungs to dog mouth. Spilling a still life
of wet roses on the dark pavement: blood petals
on our hands, wrists, boots and ankles.

In a slow (call it reverential) movement, Bailey
(her collar says Bailey) arches her spine in an asana
of surrender. Musically sighs. Now dies.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012