How to Put an Animal Down

Things have changed. They’re no longer what they used to be.
An eager smile with nonjudgmental eyes.
Unflinching devotion and unconditional love.
It’s quite common, they say. Time can do that.
Everything that is so reliable.
Everything that’s safe.
Simply, plainly: Given enough of it,
time will take it all away.

But how do you know things cannot return to what they were.

The stability begins to falter, but you react with reassurance.
Shrug off the incidents with disbelief.
(Optimism is a good thing, you’re reminded)
But the defensive wounds begin to show.

And you know.

When it’s time, it will painfully come back to you.
Crawl across the aluminum table while life slips silently away.
To lay beside you and rest its head on your arm.
Struggle to find your face in darkness, if only to say,
It’s all right. Everything will be all right.

When it’s all over, time will have momentarily gotten its fill.
To leave you with nothing but scars on your hands and over your heart
and be better for it all.

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