My niece went to school yesterday, in spite of the bad news.
Her guinea pig is dead.
She took it well enough, and vowed to turn her sorrow into art–
Taking the corpse’s paws into her pink fingers,
Squishing ink from paw to page.
One didn’t turn out so well.
He was already in rigor mortis.
My grief is less purely exorcised.
I bought a String of Tears hanging plant
This morning from the Hannaford’s.
“For Brownie,” I say.
I throw my plastic card at the automatic machine.
Money covers bases.
It occurs to me on the drive home that
I have imprisoned myself to the day of the guinea pig’s death
So long as the plant lives.
“For Brownie,” I say again.
One pustule pod is rattled by the truck
On a back road to home in New Hampshire,
And it falls onto the floor.
Later in the afternoon
On my walk,
the thick stench of sweet apples,
The smell is red & fermented.
“For Brownie,” I think.
I know it is a farce.
Brownie is also dead.
So the dead are only for me.
I pick up a piece of birch bark in the cemetery,
But I don’t offer it.
“Redundant,” I think.
Dead trees for dead beings,
And I am the only one living between.
In the woods before home,
I consider a poem.
I consider a 10-year-old girl
Drawing tiny pawprints
On her notebook in school.
I curl in my chair upstairs,
Under the skylight
Where a String of Tears
Dangles above me.
It’s still alive since the morning
(nothing is a guarantee).
Lucky, because the dead are not for themselves, anymore.
The dead are for the living.
I think, “For her.”
And then I think,