So bottomless black
I feared losing you at night
because you could disappear in the dark,
faster than a fly
once you caught a bird in mid-air
before it even had time to swallow
the pebble of biscuit it had stolen from your bowl.
A truffle of long dark fur
hooded your face in feathers
like a fancy hat that swished
when you turned your head.
We almost called you Kiwi
never obedient, but you did what you were told
turned over and shook hands
to get something,
you took to Florida better than any of us.
I cringed when you killed the opossum
embarrassed like a father on parent’s night
a hunter with natural precision
slamming the fence, knocking her off balance
shaking her babies from her pouch
spinning hairless drops everywhere
that squirmed on the afternoon’s fiery sidewalk;
my dazed disbelief
at your curious delight,
it didn’t matter
you were still my beloved.
Maybe there is only one thing more pathetic
than an old woman and her cats,
two men and their dying dog?
Visits to the vet
trying to read your chart from upside down
as the teenager with the stringy blonde hair
thumbed through pink pages of notes
there must be something else they can do?
All those nights sitting up with you
when you couldn’t sleep
flicking through The Late Show, reruns of
I Love Lucy, wars on CNN, lions killing water buffalo
potions that make you skinny or grow hair
people selling juicers and Jesus
where’s my faith?
where’s this God now? because
I have something I want to say to him
When it was over
we cleaned the house,
saved the wool berries from your favorite blanket
that always hailed the floor
after we pulled it from the dryer
gently scrubbed the ring of drool from around your dish
as if we were patting your face
painted over snorts of mucus
snarls at the postman from the doorway,
and yesterday, six months later
I vacuumed away your fur
a few persistent hairs that
clung to the back seat of my car.
I thought of letting them stay,
it seemed a sinful impulse to disturb them
and then I remembered one of those last days
with you, struggling to stand
through the soutane garments of drugs
that layered your insides.
We gazed up to an October sky
crosswinds surrendered from the Atlantic
almost lifted you in the air
when you inhaled life
under the drapes of ancient oaks
under calling blue jays and tiptoeing squirrels
under the orchid tree’s regent purple bloom.
That was the moment
the first I had seen in 15 years
from one who could always eat more,
walk more, play more, bark more, nap more
came the look of plenty.
Daryl says he still sees you
running in the backyard
coming around the corner from the bedroom
As for me,
I still wake in the middle of the night
surf the channels
looking for Jesus
where’s my faith?
there must be something else he can do.
Tim Louis Macaluso is an openly gay poet, writer, and award-winning journalist. He has worked in media for much of his career. Most recently, he was a staff writer for CITY Newspaper in Rochester, NY where he wrote extensively about poverty, urban education, and progressive politics. His poetry has appeared in numerous print and online publications.