Dog Biscuits

By Chase Twichell b. 1950 Chase Twichell
After my father’s cremation,
my sisters and I agreed
to bury him privately
when the ground thawed.
One will plant a flowering tree,
one see to the stone and its cutting,
one call the grave digger and the town clerk.
It’ll be just us, the daughters,
presiding over ashes that could be
any mammal’s, or those of any love
dispersible by wind.

Let’s bury the secret violence to his dogs,
Pompey and Tara, Juba and Molly,
their ashes already gone to this ground.
And his “escapades,” as Mom called them.
Here withers that branch of the tree.

Let’s bury the ring inscribed
In perpetuum ave atque vale (translated
“Hail and farewell” by my father,
“Hello, and good-bye forever” by Mom,
a token dating back to the First Separation)
and a tennis ball for canine shades.
Your dad is with his dogs now,
said more than one person at the funeral.

It’ll be just us, the three inheritors,
on a raw windy day in Death’s kingdom,
lifting our eyes from the hole
to the mountains hazed with spring,
saying, In perpetuum ave atque vale,
minor god of our father.
Let’s each of us drop a few
dog biscuits into his grave.

Chase Twichell, "Dog Biscuits" from Dog Language (Copper Canyon Press, 2005).

Source: Dog Language (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)

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Poet Chase Twichell b. 1950

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Living, Death

 Chase  Twichell


Chase Twichell was born in New Haven, Connecticut. She earned her BA from Trinity College and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A practicing Buddhist, she is the author of several books of poetry, and her work often reflects her spiritual practice. In an interview Twichell note that “Zen is said to be a ‘mind-to-mind transmission.’ The best poems are exactly that: they leap from one mind to another without stopping to explain . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Living, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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