Man's Best End

Let’s say your life is measured out by a list:
the names and descriptions of all the pets
you’ll ever have, in chronological order.

You might attempt to postpone that final pet,
deny death its entry into the little doggie flap
in the front door of your karmic house.

But there she is, last on your roster:
“Lappy, a female Maltese.”
Tail-wagging fluff-toy of mortality,
she’ll show up, even if you close down
the pet shops and ban the breeders.
An invisible stranger will leave her
on your front stoop, wrap her leash
around your doorknob.
He won’t even have to knock;
you’ll know what’s out there.

Try to escape if it makes you feel better.
Go ahead. Run. Hide. Make plans to move away.
You’ll be about as effective as those poor bastards
who clawed at the insides of their coffins.
Instead of just death, they ended up with sore fingers
and then death.

You’ll be helpless against the urge
to open the door. Your willpower, weak
on its good days, will be sapped away,
like in old movies when the gangster says
to the used-up woman wielding the gun,
“Baby, you can’t shoot me.
You know you can’t.
We’ve cared about each other.”

And just the same way the gun falls
from her shaky grasp, your shoulders
will droop as you open the door, and in
will trot Lappy, so small and cute, tapping
across your hardwood floor, you’ll want
to hold her on, well, your lap, and watch
the evening news with the volume
turned down low.


Originally appeared in Karamu
© Julie Price Pinkerton- All rights reserved.