Independence Day

By Matt Daly

This is not the summer for weeding. I am
letting the garden get out of hand. Some flower stalks grow
long enough to lose the strength to carry blossoms. They droop
before the mower blade. It is July and the dog is dying.

In a week or two, I will have to wake up to sunlight
surrounding a space where, recently, two unidentified men in black
caps cut down the only cottonwood tree. I will call the veterinarian
and together we will step into the dog’s last day.

I will read the newspaper online, as is my habit,
following stories of people casting off one government then another.
These stories are often accompanied by images of shouting people
with palms reaching into the sky. All the while, uniformed men
lick their chops just out of frame.

In the other room, I hear my dog not eating
despite the bullets of raw meat I put in his bowl. I hear birds
the serviceberry bushes. Some mornings, these birds chase
each other over my weedy lawn. I used to see red-tailed hawks
in that cottonwood tree.

I am having a hard time letting go of the dog
so I carry him out through the garage, down steps he can no longer
negotiate without stumbling, smacking his bony hip on concrete
when he falls. He insists on spinning around although his legs
no longer support any torque.

I have an old computer in the garage, old enough
I cannot remember if it contains any useful information. I save it
because my son might use it for an art project or because I am not
sure if I need to make an appointment to dispose of electronic waste
at the recycling center up by the fault line.

Last summer Mr. Anderson, who lives up by the fault
line and who has flown a black POW-MIA flag for as long as I can
remember, inadvertently started a forest fire by burning trash
in a barrel in his back yard on a windy day. He nearly burned
down the offices of the power company.

I admire the courage of people who clear the ground
even when they do it accidentally or too often. A person like that
would have killed the dog a while ago. I admire this twisting world
growing up wild and bony against burning and waste.

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Categories: Issue 6, Poetry | Leave a comment

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