A Dog Barked Upon My Death

A dog barked upon my death, its eyes are blue,
Perhaps reflecting the sky; I was not sure.
But dear Aesculapius was at my feet, dressing wounds
In breaths like mighty Olympus kneeled.
There shed a tear, a dog
Barked as I reached for breath. As I gasped
Holding on to whatever wind may breathe
Its life to me, I thought: a dog
Could bark still. In my drowning, I’m as unwilling
As a bark, or boom, held still, subdued.

So, did my soul dance the elegant elegy of the ticks,
The stink conspired to make the sicker sick;
The slick oils of yesterday’s sweating stuck
From paws that brushed my joints. And then his tongue
Like a flesh-ful of disease, did lick
And dolour tasted my pores, like Styx, I am
Bestowed Achilles’ knee, for my dog
Itself is as fire-eyed Cerberus, yet
With two fewer heads
Than I imagined him to be.

And he had resolve, that dog did, he watched
The breath that left my mouth in gasps
With wonder. When must his teeth decay? he must ask,
When tasked. Such breathing levelled ‘bove
Such madness screaming in levelled love,
This dog — his lungs
Must have given out for snarls given not
Of aggression or spark of attention, but agony; thus,
The dog masked my shivering before death, too, my fears
Outshouted, outnumbered, out-cried
By madness howling only sense.

A dog barked upon my death, and I am past
The world. Past its breadth. My shape is cast
Upon the endless. I am a waiting shadow, ’til
The dog that barked upon my death
Himself shall breathe his last, at last.

— A. P.


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