Jen Karetnick

It’s about the dog, but not really about the dog,

which is why I continue to cry at odd moments
popping up in my day like advertisements on

social media several weeks after we found her
dead in her crate, a cold log of dachshund,

the other two dogs who had slept there with her
for fourteen years eager to scramble out and pee

on the fallen toast of palm fronds outside, come back in
to crunch kibble and take another nap, do all the normal

dog things that they do, as if they didn’t notice anything
wrong. It’s about how they knew, having curled around

her body sinking into that foreign place all night,
but also about how they really didn’t know, or want

to understand, how they look up at me now every time
I walk in the door, my arms empty of her, then settle

their heads on their paws with a single, mutual sigh,
and give her plot on the cushion the girth of a large belt.

Or it’s about how I project these feelings onto
them, the loss, the space, the childhood she held

in her comedian’s body that encapsulated
both of my children and the time that we lived

in this house that we can now clean of her final
traces to put on the market for a family with young

kids or pets, who want an acre of yard with too many
mango trees and scenery that Facebook identifies

as India instead of Miami. It’s about the mangoes,
which the dachshund scavenged for only one season

and inexplicably never ate again, but also not really
about the mangoes, which I don’t have energy to gather

anymore; she preferred the half-rotten avocadoes
anyway, sneaking over to the pair of trees marking

the property line by the fence every time I let
all three dogs out at night, coming back with

the mottled shell of fruit in her snout, or the sugary
sapodillas, brown as rats, rooting like a pig in the brush

as if for truffles. It’s about this nest but really also not
about this nest, emptying though not vacant yet, built

by a raptor though I am now a sparrow or whatever kind
of bird a bird of prey hunts. But oh, how I recall that raptor,

how I still want to eagle the sky and look down
on the world the way I did when I felt it owed me

a galaxy in it that I didn’t have to earn or catalogue
or think about when I would have to downsize it away.


The winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition for The Crossing Over (May 2019), Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length poetry collections, including The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. She is also the author of four other poetry chapbooks, including Bud Break at Mango House, winner of the 2008 Portlandia Prize. Her work appears recently in Cigar City Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Cutthroat, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Hamilton Stone Review, JAMA, Lunch Ticket, Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Missouri Review (online). New work is forthcoming in BARNHOUSE, Cider Press Review, The Laurel Review, McNeese Review, Ovenbird, Salamander, and Tampa Review. She is co-founder/co-editor of the daily online literary journal, SWWIM Every Day (@SWWIMmiami). Jen received an MFA in poetry from University of California, Irvine, and an MFA in fiction from University of Miami. She works as the dining critic for MIAMI Magazine and as a freelance lifestyle journalist and a trade book author. Her fourth cookbook is forthcoming in May 2019. Find her on Twitter, Facebook (Profile and Page), and Instagram.

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