Archive for the ‘“Burying the Dog”’ Category

Burying the Dog

By Barbara Sweeney

At twilight, the mans begins
digging the shallow grave.
His young daughter sits hunched close by,
watching her father in the garden
as she has so many times before:
planting carrots, pruning roses,
feeding the trees.
She questions each wordless shovelful
with a slim, serious voice, “Daddy,
are you very sad?”, and,
“Can I show my friends?”
Her blonde head is a point of light,
white against piles of earth
and a darkening sky.
“I really do want to show my friends”, she says,
and makes her deliberate way next door.

When she’s gone, the man places the heavy animal
in the ground, throwing dirt
back into the hole,
breathing hard, sweating at the task.
Finished, he rakes a few even lines
over the gentle mound.
Soon the girl returns, “He’s so dead
you won’t believe it,”
she advises her older friends, she,
now an authority
on things of other worlds.

The children stand quietly
in the moonless garden.
Hand in hand, they stare
at their shoes,
at the earth,
at the man.
They see the chores that loss forces us to take.
They see love lean over a rake
and look closely at the ground
to see if it moves.

Appeared in The Connecticut River Review, Summer/Fall 1996