My Dog Died

Buffalo Bill ’s
               who used to
               ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

he was a handsome man 
                                                  and what i want to know is
how do you like your blue-eyed boy
Mister Death

e.e. cummings


My dog died.

I was eight? Nine? Somewhere in there.

Actually, it was my mom’s dog. The family pet, though. A poodle mix. Old, nearly completely blind. Lovable. Sandy.

Sandy was hit by a car, and while I don’t really want to dwell on the details, I was arriving home with my mom and my younger sister when we saw her still body in the driveway.

I can clearly remember the grief and the anguish of the discovery, the hard hours that followed, and, again, I don’t want to dwell on those details.

What’s on my mind is how I slept that night.

I’m sure, earlier in my childhood — and later, for that matter — I had rough nights, but this is the first one I remember, and it is the one I clearly remember.

I never really slept, though I drifted, in and out, not quite waking, not quite dreaming, in that weird nether-place that Neil Gaiman probably has a name and a mythology for.

And in that nether-place, with its weird time dilation, I dwelled for long hours that might have felt like days but also those days followed one after another bangbangbang justlikethat and maybe, just maybe I dreamed I talked to God or Mister Death, or maybe I wasn’t dreaming at all but in that nether-place, the Gaiman Place, and it didn’t really matter because everything was real and nothing, too, and oh, so, all I had to do was time waking up for just after the dream when Sandy’s death was just dream.

Last night, post-election, I slept about two hours, all of them back there, and Jesus (who was not a handsome man) I could do without every visiting again.


A wind stirs, rustling leaves above me.

I lift my fedora from where it rests, covering my face. Day is here, but the sun is mild, scarcely penetrating this shady abode.

I gaze up at the great stretch of limbs, trying to remember just how long I have lain here. My mind is too fuzzy to think in days, weeks, or years; only “too long” registers as a unit of time.

I rise, and my bones creak, but I am full of energy. I look about me at this, my favorite reposing place, reach a hand toward the rough bark, speak a silent thank you to my arboreal friend.

Then I shrug my shoulders, dust my coat, replace my hat, and wander off …