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.