(May 2000)

Copyright (c) 2000 First Things 103 (May 2000): 29, 47.

Desert Confirmation

They say these people are poor and
there are tremors somewhere near.

The immaculate dark child in pink
lace with roses gracing her hair
and tiny white–gloved hands
(her brother properly white–
shirted, barely weaned)
beneath the crucifix seems
safe within walls
that image violence
transformed forever.

–Joyce Crain

On the Early Retirement of Dogs

Dogs, in their job of being man’s best friend,
die young in human years, retire to
a scent–filled place where well–fed pets attend
and lick the sores of mangy Lazari.

I have outlived, in order: Cole, the Cocker;
Morry, Dachshund; Gertie, Airdale; Jenny,
Collie; Smitty, Ridgeback; I’ve watched the dogs
of others die: Granny’s shepherd Blitz;
Barney, her fox terrier; Aunt Happy’s
Great Dane, Inge, a pair of scotties, Duncan
and Fife; my brother’s Mike, from Mexico;
a neighbor’s corgi, Keesh, who bit my father.

Aging with me now, the bloodhound, Cleo,
and pointer–spaniel, Dotty, who thinks I am
her pup. She watches to make sure I don’t
escape, and licks me when I’m near. I’d almost
let her take me with her when she goes.
Her nose is sound enough to find the dead
I’d want to throw my arms around. God grant
me in the afterlife a home with gracious
hearth and grounds for all these lovesome hounds.

–Joyce S. Brown