from NER 41.1 (2020)
I read that a burro walked into a lake and killed herself
after losing her newborn, and believe in an elsewhere.
When my dog died, the other dog
did not kill herself. She did not walk from room to room or stop eating.
Theorists have wondered, does animal suicide mean suicide,
meaning, do animals speculate about the future,
meaning, do they understand death. I think what they mean
is if animals know that death means the end,
the whales beaching themselves, the dolphins
ceasing to breathe, the deer leaping off a precipice
leaving behind a pack of hunting dogs, my dog
who died, my dog who did not kill herself—
and I want to say when the donkey stepped
into the water and when the whale leaned
against the aired sand and the deer leapt
into the sky, they chose an elsewhere,
which is not to say the end.
My mind is often elsewhere. My dog knew
the other dog was elsewhere, wherever that was.
Elsewhere, the wild moon spins with its moons,
bottlenose dolphins sway in sleep. A tree grows fruit
in a dream. When Kathy the dolphin was captured
and put elsewhere, perhaps she thought the way to move
to another elsewhere was to change her breathing, her body.
Do you think I am an optimist and a romantic?
I am terrified of death and dark
and hell and heaven. But here, now, because of the burro, I believe
in elsewhere, I swear, that when I am dead I’ll be there,
wherever that is, but truly,
I’ll be everyone else’s elsewhere, when everyone is everywhere
else, which is to say is also elsewhere.
I’ll be elsewhere,
just as how here, now, I am, in my room, alone,
anonymous to every lake I’ve never touched.