Every year the cherry trees fatten with brag. Every year we return.
Addie presses her nose into my palm for a treat. On each kernel of popcorn,
the scent of my heart: raw in my hand, she’d eat it with haste.
I hate cold days but pray for them so I can watch her sparkle in the nip.
The daggers of my spine come for me and she rests her head in my lap to soften the stab.
Her worn teeth make me wince. I check the grey in her muzzle and wish it back.
I rehearse her death in my mind too often. I am rehearsing my own death in hers.
I don’t want to go before her. I want her nose—the chocolate nose
that can lift into the air and scan the placement, history and hurt of everything—
to smell my hand on her head as she closes her eyes, and closes her heart,
and I let myself follow her into the dark.
Ricky Ray lives in the old green hills with his old brown dog and is the author of Fealty (Diode Editions), Quiet, Grit, Glory (Broken Sleep Books) and The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself (Fly on the Wall Press). Twitter/Instagram/Facebook: @rickyraypoet.