Casket of a Stranger

My dog died over four years ago,

And her ashes rest above our fireplace:

A mantlepiece

Behind a photograph of her that was there when she was alive

And a paper figurine my little brother made

Of some random dog

That I think is horrid and ugly.

It doesn’t even have a muzzle - just a flat strip of paper with a penciled face.

 

I only take her box down in fits of rage

And only when no one else is home

Because it’s kind of funny how quickly that rage turns to fear

And I am almost afraid of how easy it is to become exactly that:

Afraid.

But what I fear most when I open that box,

That casket,

Is that I’m not alone.

 

I am afraid that someone who is not a stranger to me

Will see inside that box

And see my rage,

My fear of them, and of fear itself, and

Of death, and of how

All of a sudden

I will become a stranger to them.

 

I open this box,

Despite my shaking hands fumbling with the lid,

So I can dump my own ashes inside,

The crumbling parts of me

That beg for a drink of water, for life -

The thoughts that make me who I am

Sitting next to the thoughts of my dog that

Made her who she was.

 

I am afraid someone will find out

That a stranger in this household broke the glue seal on the lid,

That a stranger thinks my little brother’s sculpture is horrid and ugly,

That a stranger moves the photograph of an unstrange dog more than she should.

 

I do this so, when that box is safely tucked up and away,

Out of my unprovoked grasp,

I am not a stranger to those who know me

I do this

So I can touch death and drink fear,

So I can live on the memory of others

And kill my own.

  

This poem is about: 
Me
My family

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