On the Advantages of Being Buried with Your Dogs

(Ellen Glasgow stipulated in her will that she should be buried with her favorite pets)

If the grave leads down--

they could entertain the jaws of Cerberus,

one dog to every head.

Or kenneled in those vast rooms

of echoing night,

they could be your eyes and ears,

lead you from dark to dark,

sleep curled beside your bed.

They could clear out every rat from the house of the dead,

enliven silence

with their barks and whines,

and purloin the bones of the skeletons--

till they tottered when they walked, like one-legged men--

and make the Furies smile,

erase the iron frown from Hades' head,

if, as was posited,

the grave leads down--

But if it leads up instead,

they could run at those bird-like creatures with the gaudy wings

and make them fly

geese-like. Or when the saved

gathered in choirs of righteousness to sing,

they could raise their heads and howl

their sad wolf howls,

and put all the harps of Heaven out of tune,

atonalize the skies.

They could water every tree in Paradise

and make perfection livable,

plant a golden turd

on the throne of God,

and make Him remember his name,

and summon every animal up from the grave

to be redeemed, sanctified, and saved,

and keep you and the saints

from arrogance, self-will, boredom

and beatitude--

if, as before I said,

the grave leads up instead.

Copyright 2010-2012 Paul Petrie