The winter morning our ten-year-old
golden spaniel mix
has what appears to be a heart attack, stretching
his neck toward heaven the way my wife
gulps pills, Mom drops her scrambled eggs and bacon
at the butcher’s block and spills
into the back yard to cradle his sinking head.
Leaving my oil-splashed plate’s quiche
in shambles, I’m next. He watches us watch him,
quivering. What haunts me is how easily
conversation flows through end-of-life
scenarios to the next pet. Afterwards,
my little sister Mariah’s key won’t ignite the engine
of her new Hyundai Elantra.
We gather in the driveway. She holds the copper
jaws apart, one in each hand,
and clamps plus to plus, negative to negative.
Not to be late for work, she pulls out of the driveway.
What haunts me is the speed, how swiftly after one
leaves, the next arrives to fill the vacancy.
What haunts me is the vacancy.