If Thy Right Eye Offend Thee
I killed my dog. It was an accident.
I bounced a rubber ball that ricocheted
off the wall then out the open window
and he fetched it but didn't bring it back.
I heard a thump and a whimper almost
at the same time--I don't know which came first.
But I peered over the windowsill and
there he lay, dead for good. To his credit
he was only a few feet from the ball.
Dogs can't fly but can leap great distances
is what I learned. Also, don't take the screen
out of the window. And don't play with dogs
in the house. I had to go downstairs and
explain to Mother and Father what went
wrong. Mother, I begin, Caesar just died.
What, she says. How. Where. How'd it happen, boy,
Father says. He comes into their bedroom,
with the newspaper. I don't know, I lie.
I looked out my window and there he was,
on the ground. He wasn't moving. I thought
he was upstairs with you, Mother says. No,
I say. He left. He went outside. I lie
but it's something like the truth--I don't want
spanked. I can smell supper in the kitchen.
Corned beef and cabbage and a bowl of beans.
Well, well, Father says. I'm so sorry, boy.
Me, too, sniff. I rub my right eye with
my left hand. My throwing hand. The ball's red.
My eye's hot. If thy right eye offend thee,
pluck it out. Let's go have a look, he says.
We go into the yard and there death is,
as my dog, but I think there's God there, too.
I wish I had somebody to talk to
but minutes ago I killed my best pal.
Poor thing, Father says. He's dead, sure enough.
Go bring the wheelbarrow and the shovel.
I don't move. I can't move. You hear me, boy,
he says. Huh, I say. Sir, I mean. Fetch
the shovel and the wheelbarrow and let's
bury him. Yes sir, I say. I return.
Can't figure out what killed him, he says. He
had a stroke, maybe, I say. Heart attack.
Got hit by lightning but the sun's shining
--that's the meanest kind of lightning, I add.
The kind without any clouds. Father studies me.
I don't think so, he says. More than likely
he got hit by a car and came up here
to die. Sure, I say. That's it. So we go
to the terrace below the garden where
all the other dead pets lie till the Day
of Judgement, when they will be released from
their graves and go to Heaven, if they were
good. Most of them were. Good, I mean. What's sin
to an animal? Father and I walk
back to the house. Supper's on the table,
Mother says, as we open the screen door.
I'm not really hungry, I say. I could
eat a horse, says Father. Burying's hard
work. We sit down and I say Grace. God bless
Caesar, I say. He was a good boy. Take
him to thy bosom, Lord, in Jesus' name.
Amen. Pass the salt, Father says. I pass
the pepper instead. Salt, boy, he says. Salt.