The bench next to me,
where the Lord would sit
with another poet,
is empty. There is
not even His absence.
Take it all from me, I beg
I could never stalk away; a crow
might abandon a nest
when the season is over. A time
to brood, a time to move on.
Loss, when turned to the light
at just the right angle, is an asset.
I take it all back. Preserve me,
oh Lord, in amber.
Let me be comfortable in my skin
an ugly fat splotched dog
loved by people who rub my belly,
whisper silly names.
An altar of skulls—fox and hawk,
toad and human. A candle flickers
from the eye sockets. What new
god could challenge dread, dazzle?
If Orpheus had sung of a rocky hillside
where a white lamb nurses, butting
the ewe’s bursting udders, of
the way water tastes as it falls
into a stone basin, caught
in cupped hands—then she would
have followed into the light. Instead,
he sang of conquest, indoors
in a bed where childbirth is pain
the way the Gods ordained. She
slipped away, phrase by phrase.
So that Death will just be a caller
who also loves ugly dogs,
and will stoop down to whisper
into my silky, smelly ear.