What Is It to Die Like a Dog, John McKernan

Dale Champlin, Shawl, Collage, 2021



To hear the owl’s soft feathers light
To smell the buzzard wing’s green cuisine

This morning I watched for ten minutes
From the upstairs bedroom window
An unknown neighbor’s dog from up the hollow

Its front legs & paws
Like a shovel digging    Scooping
Small consecutive footprints of dirt
Flying & rising behind it in a mound

It thought it was going to dine on Cat
Which I had buried yesterday
Its thin ribs & tiny heart   
Juicy hindquarters
Perhaps an ear or a pink tongue

I knocked my knuckles hard
On the windowpane three times
As if I wanted to enter
The Palace of Nothing
Watched its shadow float    Licking the dark
Green grass up    Over the hill’s ridge & vanish

I knew exactly which wet stone
I will have to pry
From the creek bed  &
Lug in my red wheelbarrow
Like a padlock
Up the bumpy rock-strewn hill
I knew exactly which stone

John McKernan

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