After that butterfly died, someone mowed down its sunflowers.
The field was boring and bare
besides the rabbits that lived there.
One day, there was you. Sweet, spotted thing
with a bright blue collar. We thought about returning you.
we watched you with amusement. You were the bravest
little explorer in the big, bad field–a slice of bright blue
poking mischievously from the grasses near the creek.
More dogs arrived. Bigger than you. Bigger than me.
If we listened hard enough, we heard you whimpering. I didn’t see you, but I saw
the way their heads jerked
as they tossed you around. I figured
That your neck snapped like a twig mid-air
and you died.
I climbed the fence despite my fear of falling,
over brambles and back down into the wispy creek with my brother,
catching my hair and dragging me
backwards, begging me not to look.
We followed your blood just beyond the yard with the trampoline.
You breathed shallowly in the sticky grass, with your eyes fixed on something. Something. Something.
You’d bitten through your tongue.
Sticky red and bright blue. On the other side of the fence,
children laughed as they bounced high into the air.
The sun set, and evening descended over the year and over your life.
In the darkness, the first few firecrackers snapped and I shivered while I stroked you and whispered that it would be okay. It would.
The vets were closed and it was a holiday weekend and there were gaping
holes in you, but you would be okay. When I picked you up, your head lolled
to the side.
A man called your name from the house with the trampoline.
You left often, they told us. You liked to explore with the other dog. The woman thanks us
and thanks us and thanks us and I think she’s reduced to breathing that way,
just like your distant panting in the grass.
They call and tell us you died.
I came to visit a few months later.
The field was still empty,
save for the sunflowers that grew tall as a trampoline
over the spot where we found you.