Two Short Ones

By Alec Berry

Poetry

 

I have a few more years to go as I am,

then I’m changing my name to Lyle and disappearing

and getting really into BBQ and BBQ festivals and the people they contain.

I am saving money for this.

_____

My dog died last night, and I’m real sad. I feel dumb, too. Because I feel real sad. He was a dog. I feel dumb because I went to Sheetz today, and I bought a snack, and I shed a tear or two because he liked snacks. And I had to explain this to the guy buying Gatorade. And I had to tell the woman cooking French fries. And I even had to explain it to myself. Which is dumb.

He lived to be 17. He should have died a few years ago. Yesterday we all knew it was coming. He hadn’t really left his bed or walked much in the last month, but he stood up, anyway, and walked around our house in small circles, and I watched, and he just seemed restless. Like, he didn’t want to sit still right then. He wanted to get up and see some of the old hang outs. Or where things happened. Or to affirm some connection with a space the rest of us hold a connection to, too.

He died by himself in my old room. My mom estimates it happened at about 11:20 p.m. I saw him at about 5:55. An hour before that he was by the closet door, laying on his side, shit pushing out of him, and saliva, and breathing real heavy, and my mom was saying sorry for not putting him to sleep the day before, for putting him in this position, and then my dad said, “You’re a good boy,” and I saw my dad cry, and our other dog came in, and she sat right in front of him and she cried, too. You could tell he didn’t want to go.

I remember he took this big breath, and he howled a little bit in the exhale, and his eyes got real big, and his head fell. He died for about two seconds; he popped right back into it and stood up and started walking in circles. I think he remembered how he used to sleep under my bed every night when I lived home and how he stopped doing this whenever I ever moved out. I think he remembered snoring.

He remembered taking those big gulps of air and pushing it through his body. He remembered there was a guy up top who didn’t mind the sound. I came to my apartment late last night and I got very high and went to sleep, and I could hear him snoring under a bed he never saw. I thought about how at home, when I wasn’t there, he was maybe waiting to get comfortable again. To go back under there. To share something like sleep with someone who got it.

I don’t know if dogs know about dying. I’m not even sure they really know who we are or why we have them. I don’t know if they know that we love them. But when he stood up yesterday after dying, he walked right under my old bed, laid down and put his head by me. The shit and saliva stopped. He just kept breathing. So I rubbed his head and pulled his ear like he liked, and he looked at me, and I could see this fear in him. But it wasn’t really for himself. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe it was. Maybe this is all projection made possible by a belief in souls and friends. But I think that fear was for me and my mom and my dad and the other dog. This feeling of, are you going to be ok with this? And of course you have to tell him, “Yeah, it’ll be ok. You’ll be ok. We’ll be ok.” And I think that was our goodbye. I mean, I’m thinking of that as our goodbye.

I’ll feel dumb all week. I’m sitting on a toilet right now, and Paige is in the other room watching something by herself, and Will just told me to come over because he bought all this pizza, and I’m on a toilet feeling sad for a passed-on living thing that I never really had a conversation with. I’m just looking at an old photo from Halloween. Where I’m dressed like Harry Potter, and he’s dressed like Superman, and we’re sitting together on the front porch steps as who we were. These two things breathing, wearing stupid outfits. And I’m so glad we could let ourselves be so dumb.

 

Alec Berry lives in Wheeling, WV, where he was born. He wrote and self-published All Pretty Sore and 30-second bleed /// stitches.

2 responses to “Two Short Ones”

  1. Ashleigh says:

    The next time I’m in a classroom teaching writing, I’m gonna show these to my students.

    Thanks Alec! I’m into these!

  2. Corey says:

    I have dreamed of escaping into the world of barbecue. Your dog poem made me cry a little, which is weird because we have a really old dog, a dog my wife got as a puppy a year before we got together. I know that dog will be gone soon, but I’m not all that sad about it. So, now I feel guilty because I am sad about your dog poem but not my own dog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *