Hopelossness

Saber was his name.
My brother’s dog.
He belonged on the set of Sandlot.
Minus the growl.
Because he was a gentle giant
that wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Just like his human counterpart, Braxton.
My nephew had passed to the other side.
Too soon.
Paper angels filled their lawn.
What a shame it was that B was gone,
but his dog was there
laying, hanging his head on the stoop
waiting for his boy to come home.
The reunion never took place until Saber died, too.
I would have liked to have been there, Braxton
because in many ways I am still on that doorstep
my brain is reeling in the why.

Lucky was his name.
The little mutt with crazy wire whiskers.
He was a high-strung dog,
but how she loved him.
Her boyfriend relayed through sobs that he found Lucky
licking up her blood.
My hug that can’t be given is in that backyard fire
along with hers
among the coals and guts
wondering along with Lucky
where she went and why she went there.
Stephanie, my dear friend,
I’ll never stop
reliving the conversation
we had over messenger
a week before.
I told you there was hope.
You could still live a full life
even with a mental diagnosis.
I’m so sorry that I wasn’t convincing enough.

I don’t know their names.
One was a fat chocolate lab
and the other was a bronze retriever.
He walked them every day.
Twice a day.
Like clockwork.
Early morning and right after rush hour.
They dragged him along
and he held on tight
to both of their leashes
and their bags of poo.
But his own life was slippier.
Hey you, we said hi in passing
for years, but you never
had many words.
You let go of your life
and your dogs are probably
still sitting at the window
with scrambling paws
tangled in the blinds
waiting for their walk.
When our neighbor texted
to report the news,
I cried
because I wanted to see
those bags of poo
one last time,
so I could tell you that
you mattered.
To your dogs,
and to me.
Even if we weren’t friends.
Even if I don’t even know your name.
Daily, since the news, I drive the streets
that never again will know your soles,
and my soul feels empty.

Chinchillas.
He loved them.
He tried to convince me
to love them, too.
I wouldn’t even look,
even though my kids said they
were the softest animal on the earth.
Caleb was the softest human on the earth.
His smile.
His laugh.
His love.
His open arms
and funny jokes.
Everyone’s friend.
Everyone’s cheerleader.
His love for cooking.
I want to buy a chinchilla
just for you, Caleb
because I didn’t listen last time when you told me to
and because maybe
just maybe
the chinchilla’s fur
in my hand
will bring back my ability to breathe.
But mostly I want to travel back
two weeks and embrace your face
and tell you how much you taught
instead of just remarking
on how handsome of a young man you had become.

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