For us, a dusting of October snow promised annihilation. A blue glow from wood burning stove, our life expectancy. If the flame went out we would shiver against each other willing body heat to finally warm us. We were able to experience joy once when the shade of our oak died and sunlight slipped through limbs before Autumn could burn leaves from their
stems. We justified our fuel source for that winter and lived like rich men-- I played my violin and you stomped through snow melting under your paws on hardwood floors like a bass drum to keep time-- How you were so sad when I had to burn my fiddle for warmth still makes me cringe to recall. My first mistake: whiskey, sure, and the second was trust in the Farmer’s Almanac for mild weather. We were having such a ball fiddling good jigs with strong booze that I failed to judge October snow right. By December we’d run out of wood. We both got sick. I recovered easy but you worsened as December revolved around the North Star. Because living alone is easier with a dog, I didn’t shoot you at first. Selfish, yes, but you’d be the first dog I’d shoot, and perhaps for that reason, I felt like I had to savor that cowlick in time. I used a .22 rifle, over my .38, because I knew the blast would send a bullet into your skull to rattle through your brain like banjo twang and mutilate life without an exit wound and freed then, along with a single spent shell knocking on the floor where we'd danced, was every loyalty in your mind. I pulled the shutters down, placed the casing on the frozen mantle, filled a tea cup with water warmed in my hands wrecked from a .22 recoil weak in that numb afternoon. I let snow drift outside my window and hoped it would mask where you should have been alive in the corner under my writing desk dreaming up poems for me to write while you ran through your sleep like trust.
62 The Paris-American
Nick Aiezza received his MA from Manhattanville College where he served as Poetry Editor of Inkwell. Currently, he lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York state.