We name the things we love
the most, and Emma was an
off-brand American Girl doll
our daughter bought at Target
with her Christmas money.
Lydia cradled her baby doll
in her folded arms, wrapped
the plastic infant in a swaddling
blanket, sang a quiet lullaby
in her highest notes and then
laid the baby to rest in a bed.
She also named our dog
whom we tolerated most days
and hated others, who strained
against his leash, dug up the grass
and ate from the trash. Countless
wooden blocks, Matchbox cars,
pillows, sheets, and stuffed animals
left our residence torn or teeth-marked.
We forgave him seventy times seven
until he took the last crappy diaper
off the changing table. We arranged
another home for our ninety-five
mutt named Beans. Our daughter
was heartbroken. Beansy! she cried,
I don’t want to give our dog away.
On the day we planned to take the dog
to meet his new master, Emma landed
by happenstance in the yard after
a hasty departure from afternoon play.
We found Emma disemboweled,
white fluff of stuffing sticking in the grass.
Lydia sobbed, clutched her love
to her chest. Beans wagged his tail
and skipped around the wireless fence.
Beansy! She cried, flinging Emma
at his head while he pranced
and tried to nip the baby doll’s
remaining limbs, then pressed his nose
against her cheek and licked.
Before bedtime seasons later,
Lydia asked for a song about her
and Beans, and I sang a melody
about a day they ran together
in between the trees and chased
the squirrels, sunlight streaming
through the limbs, and suddenly
she cried, I miss Beans, hot tears falling,
falling, the way only unconditional love
can fall, forgive the one who hurt us most
and resurrect fresh and new in a land
where we forget the hurt and only feel
the hollow where a paw we asked
to shake once fit so perfect.