Over a year ago I returned to Minnesota for the holidays and to spread the ashes of our golden retriever Maxwell, also known as Max. Revisiting my hard drive today, I found a series of elegiac prose blocks that I do not recall writing, as they are well beyond, as far as tone and move, the work I usually do. So here I offer a photograph and a poem for Max, as memories remain fond.


Kill the Tension
for Maxwell, finally

There is an old bridge we assumed was built by Indians. My older brother would take me out with his friends to cross it. I was the second G.I. Joe figure, the one with the broken arm. Left behind, I’d move forward the pack and scale the bridge before anyone arrived. A waterfall puttered under ice and trickled through slits like the dry saliva of chapped lips. I revisited it last week to spread my dog’s ashes. I hopped as far out on the smallest rocks as I could, coming down hard in stick. I opened the urn and stared at the cracked bones of Maxwell like shale split from a whale’s bump above waves, the grayest crackle come cold with the white-tips atop and toward the chosen spangle of its shore. I released the tendrils of ash in a sweep of sorrow across the pool we once collected dead carp from, calling them our catch. They had flopped up frozen, bellies scarred from years of angling snag, flopped up from the giving they gave down in schools of shadowed Elm. I swept the ashes across the pool and watched them lift and return to the woolen enclosures of my weight. I felt the golden stir of his paws retrieve below their furs the warmth of stop. I said nothing in silence and turned back to see my family at the tip of the first curve in which the water felled its indrawn bath, my father directly behind a tree trunk, his high exhale embarking upon reprieve, my brothers gloves wavering as if caught on a branch, my mother’s trestle of blonde hair crackling like the last leaf of autumn, their breaths one long icicle calling down into the damn, falling and freezing me into fours, my tail slow in rolling like a psychic’s palm over a globe of unknown endings, stirring, stirring the exhaustive blur of all we’ve put to bay, frozen, laid out, and bellied up for catch.


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