Here’s a self-indulgent poem I wrote the day my dog died. Stoemp had been with us since early 2011. My mom and I brought her back from the countryside, and she laid on a pillow on my lap for the whole trip, curled up close to my belly, looking up at me, scared and farting up a storm. She was so tiny. She was a good, anxious, obstinate dog, and I miss her a lot.

All dogs go to heaven,
as the sad 80’s cartoon said.
This I believe.

I believe that there’s a God,
especially for dogs.
And their heaven is full of prairies and mud pits,
big trees with lots of shades
and smelly, comfy cushions to nap on.

In this heaven, there’s a space
away from other dogs, for you
who is afraid of socializing with your kind.

In this heaven,
nodoby watches you while you poop,
nobody scolds you for barking too loud,
and when you scratch at the earth,
a satisfying chunk of dirt detaches itself
and flies at the exact spot you want it to.

In this heaven, someone who smells like me
keeps their hand on your flank at all times,
next to your ribs, the way you like it.

In this heaven, you might meet our other dogs,
the ones who are buried in our backyard,
though is has been paved over now.
Maybe you’ll reminisce together
about the smell of my room,
the feel of my grandma’s hands,
the cool parks we used to take you too.

Maybe in this heaven, they let departed humans
pet their dogs one last time.
If that’s the case,
I look forward to putting my hand on your flank,
the way you like it,
one last time.