Dead-Dog Grief

by Nancy Jean Hill

Consider, if you will, a middleaged man
scattering ashes into a wicked winter sea
while his wife stays in their marital grave
wearing a feather pillow over her head,
snuffing out visions of loyal dogs, now dead,
shutting up the perpetual bark of grief.

Consider the hunching down of grief
and all the tears wept by a man
who carries to the shore’s edge dead
dog ashes and scatters them into the sea
while scavengers swoop from overhead
hoping to be nourished by the grave

nature of this man’s grave
errand. Consider what grief
he feels. Never getting ahead.
Never being the kind of man
who could rise above the sea
and save his dogs from being dead.

All of his passion spent on three dead
dogs and his marriage digging its own grave
the way his dogs dug for bird bones by the sea
and came up with nothing but grief,
the merciless snap of sand crabs, making the man
want to cut off the little creatures’ heads.

Tearing of the flesh and mutual beheading.
Words that dripped with irreconcilable grief,
the onerous path of this wife and her sad man.
Dogs that saved the marriage gone to their graves.
Ashes kept in urns for years. Dead
love, dead dogs, thrown into the sea.

Ashes vanish like ghosts into the churning sea.
Beach combers, shell seekers, turn their heads
toward grating screams and grieve
the many years they’ve spent in deadly
quarantine, knowing not ’til now the grave
needs of a lonely man.

The silence of a dead sea echoes like grief.
A man wades toward a salty grave.
Onlookers shrug, then bow their heads.