the big black lab was evicted
about a month ago like 6 months
in dog years long enough
that he doesn't give up
his comfortable bed
in the shed when he hears me
in the kitchen
doesn't come out
jump up on the desk
under the kitchen window
his whole body wagging at eye level expectantly
waiting to be welcomed to the bosom
of the family home again

he was evicted for littering
for tearing out the trash a-gd-gain
and because it is a dog's life
and because i didn't have sense
enough in the first place to know
that a dog belongs not in the house.

his sister, the cat
was exiled 6 human months ago
for shedding and vomiting furballs
down the television screen
on the kitchen table in the bathroom
in secret places only company sees
and i didn't want that anymore
though i must've wanted it all along
to have allowed it for so long, right?

yesterday i slipped her stiff furry self
into a hole in the side yard
there, because my thirteen-year-old
with the perfect hair and perfect makeup
decided she should lay close to where she died
and i shoveled heavy sandy soil over her
after i slid her out of the trash bag
so she wouldn't rot in plastic for 99 years
just blend back into the earth
i patted it down and walked away
glad i wouldn't have to worry anymore
about her getting killed
wondering now if there's something wrong
with me

wondering why the dog doesn't whine
wondering what it will mean
when the kids don't whine
and why i expect it.

there's nothing writ that says
we have to live in and eat their shit

but something inside me trembles
wonders if there are unwritten commandments:
honor thy rotten kids
honor thy cats and dogs

there's still one cat and two kids in here
and me.
i wonder who will be next

Copyright 2000  Cauline M. Holdren


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