Contents | December 2003

More on poetry from The Atlantic Monthly.

The Atlantic Monthly | December 2003

The Apparition

by Maxine Kumin
audioear pictureHear the author read this poem (in RealAudio)

True to his word, our vet
comes in late afternoon
and kneels in a slant of sun.
A pat, a needle stick
stills the failing heart.

We lower the ancient form
to the hemlock-shrouded grave
and before the hole is brimmed
set a layer of chicken wire
to guard against predators

so that the earth we broke
reforms, a mild mound.
The rock we place on top,
common glacial granite,
is mica-flecked and flat.

That night the old dog works
his way back up and out,
gasping, salted with dirt,
and barks his familiar bark
at the scribble-scratched back door.

I pull on shirt and pants,
a Pavlovian response,
and stumble half awake
downstairs to turn the knob
where something, some mortal stub

I swear I recognize,
some flap of ear or fur,
swims out of nothingness
and brushes past me
into its rightful house.

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Maxine Kumin's most recent volumes of poetry are The Long Marriage (2001) and Bringing Together: Uncollected Early Poems 1958-1988 (2003).
Copyright © 2003 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; December 2003; The Apparition; Volume 292, No. 5; 100.