27: my old dog’s face

my dog’s old face
follows me to the place
he’s buried under
the white pine
in the back of the house
and I kneel and wonder
who has visited
other than the squirrels,
slugs, and deer
here where everything
important happens

I imagine what that old dog’s
face must be thinking
will I have to answer
to him when I go,
eaten by something
like epilepsy,
to stand for his reckoning
and should I have used
him better to judge my actions,
the threats I made, those things
I put off, the hatreds I cultivated
with the love of gardeners?

my old dog’s face who hated
nothing, never threatened,
who as a puppy ate a copy
of the New Revised Standard bible
one afternoon and preferred
the table legs to chew toys
and who had no skill at all
for gardening but had mastered
the art of shitting on the rug
when the hardwood
was more than available . . .

he was yet more ancient
than I, something more masterful
in his quite, in his position of sitting
and watching the birds,
my old dog’s face following me
as if my passing has happened
without my knowing it,
as if all I need is the memory
of that old face to live well.

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