On the death of Salem
I take the train through the city.
It passes the monuments, the buildings, the buzz and the blur.
The leaves on the trees look like soggy crowns
as they slump on the shoulders of worn branches.
I grip the handles of my reusable grocery bag the whole way,
afraid of what will happen when I get out and
walk inside the vet’s office,
and leave this canine frame on the table.
It was his idea to put him in this shopping bag.
The smell wafts through the zippered lining,
the stares gather from the man with the loud ear buds
who bobs his head up and down
and the woman with the bright lipstick
who files her nails, the red crumbs of polish
falling in debris on the steps.
In a way, I almost enjoy the attention,
the scrunched noses, the looks of astonishment
when I tell them I’m taking my dead dog
to the veterinarian because I don’t have
the room to bury him in my yard.
In a way, I think it’s apropos
that the mother in front of me holds her son’s ears
as he turns his head away and cries;
that the psychiatrist who leaves her office
an hour early to have an affair with another man
has to talk even louder than usual
into her cell phone to block out my story.
I think, in a settling, mortifying way
old Salem deserves this.
About the author:
Sarah Grodzinski has an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University. She is looking to publish her first collection, On Beacon Street. She is an Adjunct Professor and Assistant Tennis Coach at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. Recently, she has been spending her time listening to Damien Rice's new album and planning her upcoming wedding.