Jennifer Wheelock: “Unison”


It takes a long time to dig a hole

big enough to bury a Great Dane.

I drove six hours to help. You insisted

we dig near the tree he’d peed

into submission. We took turns,

just the two of us, with one old shovel,

in the rain. Once we’d finished, we rolled

the old guy in his favorite blanket

into the crater that took up

half your yard. Your cat sat

in the window watching. Before we shifted

the dirt back, you made us read aloud,

“A Dog Has Died,” by Neruda

by the big hole in the now downpour,

and our tears married the rain,

and our feet merged with earth,

and we stood there silly, ceremonious,

singing, sinking, avoiding

the inevitable final look

before one more thing we love

became part of the collective

stain we call the past.

Jennifer Wheelock is a poet and painter living in Los Angeles. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including Los Angeles Review, Post Road, Lake Effect, Flycatcher, Diagram, River Styx, Atlanta Review, Inflectionist Review, Negative Capability Press’s Stone, River Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems, New Millennium Writings, and North Atlantic Review. She works at UCLA.

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