I like to tell it like it happened in July so
there can be implications of watermelons,
In December, though, the blood on the house and snow
are peony blooms in red and white.
But if it’s in July, there can be an image of my grandmother
leaned up against her spade,
the handle tucked up into her body,
the silver head tucked into the soil,
the top of her lip moist,
the dead dog next to her, inert.
If it’s in July, there can be flies,
swarms of flies,
covering the opened up parts of my dog
so that I can’t see the insides.
I can have my grandmother rest
for a bit over the hole and say:
the foxglove ain’t comin up this year.
Although, there’s never been any foxglove
and all I can imagine are thick leaves
and milk oozing from its anonymous roots
to saturate the soil.
In December, we find her still-alive and the neighbor across
the stumped over corn field sews her bits back together.
If it’s in July, she can stoop down to grasp a leg,
to chuck my dog into the hole.
It can be under the willow tree,
and I can crouch on my hams to peer over the side before
my grandmother begins to throw the dirt back in.
In December, my father goes out at night to find the
dogs that attacked her.
When he finds them,
he shoots them and throws their
bodies on their owner’s porch.
If it’s in July I can feel the sun on my head.
Grandmother pats the last of the dirt with her hands
and asks me if I want some potato salad.
In December, my dog lives and I feed her small pieces of old pizza
while she rests on a blanket in the basement.
Nicole Mason received her MA in Literature at Northern Michigan University and currently teaches Composition and Creative Writing at Indiana University of South Bend. Sometimes she writes poems. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in SOFTBLOW, (b)OINK, Farther Stars Than These, and Cease, Cows.