The Dog Watched Television by Faith Shearin

The summer of my mother’s illness,
a season so hot and dry it might
have erupted in flames, we discovered
the dog liked television. She barked
if we left her alone in the dim silence
of the bedroom but was cheerful
if we provided a documentary
about whales. She learned why
prehistoric wolves were likely to
care for their sick and injured while
we drove my mother, fasting,
to the operating room and kicked
the broken dishwasher and forgot
garbage day for so many weeks
the utility room became an odor.
The dog watched Billy the Exterminator
capture raccoons and alligators
and restore them to their natural habitats;
she watched The Civil War, learned
about our national parks, considered
the troubles facing our oceans.
My mother wept and raged and drank
clear liquids and worried that none of us
loved her enough, and the dog settled
her narrow head on a pillow,
her black eyes wise

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