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Sestina for the Dog Struck and Killed Along Interstate I-80


Image by Caleb Ruiter

Where can an animal rescue volunteer bury her heart today?
I tip the shovel – hesitate, before I scoop the dog
demolished on I-80 overnight. Light pontoons along the highway’s

shoulder; I clench my eyes the way years before my hands

clenched the shoulders of my dog, Shiloh, sodium pentothal jetting

along its highway of tubing, demolishing his heart.

In morning rush, who mourns a dead dog’s wrecked heart?
Silence craters Moxie; scarves of dust drape her body today.
Dog tags spangle, daylight jets –
Hours before, frantic owners called, seeking help to find their missing dog.

Spooked from her car at 1AM, Moxie fled familiar hands,

headlights drilling night bewitched the dog, starburst Moxie on the highway.

Backdrafts stampede highway;
dog ear flaps, unfolds like half a paper heart
insides spill out, a mess of tangled hands.

Flies buzz broth of aftermath today.
Shovel levers morning light. Dogged,
I heave the weight of emptiness, taste fumes from diesel jets.

Dog bones clack like bamboo chimes, surge of jetting

traffic howls along the highway.
I palm the flyer that identifies the dog.
Moxie’s photo guts my heart:

chocolate Lab adrift in dreams, haloed in window light weeks before today;

I scoop her from the photo in make-believe hands.


I bag remains, cinch the plastic twist-tie with sweaty hands;

contrails criss-cross blue sky where fliers jet
above my haul today.
Pick-up truck transports Moxie for cremation south of highway.

I pack Moxie’s ashes in the flatbed of my heart.

Back home, I hug every dog.

Shiloh was the dog
whose shoulders I clenched in empty hands
as sodium pentothal demolished his heart.
Every dog jets
love; every loss starbursts highways
of our hearts; every lost dog starbursts us every day.

Dog Star ahhhwoooooos – jets light from here to heaven,

Moxie hands highway her song.
Light struck dog, dig up my heart – day, after day, after day.

Juanita’s poetry and non-fiction prose have appeared in small, local literary publications such as The Watershed Journal, The Bridge Literary Arts Journal, Tobeco, and the Pennsylvania Wilds website. She finds her best ideas for writing while rambling through nearby, wild Pennsylvania game lands “off leash” with her collaborator dogs Gabe, Katey, Wilson, and Liberty. 

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