My dad buried two dogs in the backyard:
Bird dogs, they say—
the kind that chase something in flight.
try to capture with its teeth
a winged ceremony,
feathers dripping from each of their mouths.
The first dog was just plain old.
The second died of a heart worm pill —my father neglected to purchase.
What else has he let die?
My mother fixed his plate every night,
never bought a car, or shoes, or skirt
without his permission.
She birthed children and raised them.
She, my sister, and I—
winged things in the air.
I knew there was blood under the ground.
No surprise when I found the house was sinking.
Our dogs always stayed outside, not allowed
in the living room.
Only the basement,
where my father stayed, slept, fixed things.
My mother, a silent companion.
The dog barks and my father goes running.
The dog dies
and we bury my mother.
Graves for everyone
and feathers fall from my father’s teeth.
He barks and becomes the tree.
The bark remembers phantom noose
The screech becomes a bullet
without a window to land through,
just a body,
Copyright © 2020 by Barbara Fant. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 29, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.