Casket of a Stranger
My dog died over four years ago,
And her ashes rest above our fireplace:
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:
But what I fear most when I open that box,
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.
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