Dead Matter has Memory by Sarah Elaine Magin

After killing my parents’ bulldog

I learned

dead matter has memory.

deep in bone marrow, muscle tissue and impacted molars

grainy greys of old photographs

a woman once a picture’s worth

now crumbling in a shoe box

remembers without understanding


he shrank in size as I dragged him to the backyard

locked joints,

stiff muscles

heavier than ever.


with unsuitable tools

my sister dug the hole

a pick axe and a snow shovel

breaking dirt and scooping it into a pile

that grew slowly into a mountain


though smaller than ever

his body was still too big

I pushed

he wouldn’t give

I pulled him out

not even with gloves

would my sister touch him

instead kept digging


on my haunches I waited

till the hole was big enough for us all

not a hunting trophy or a test of feat

my parents’ bulldog stretched before me


Once finished

we, like the shoebox woman, brushed the dirt from our clothes

And although it felt like a dream,

The next morning I awoke a sleepwalker.


Sarah Elaine Magin earned degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Knox College. She is currently teaching at the College of DuPage.