The Strength of Flesh

by Graham Irvin

The aging dog’s bleached
face, eyes, nose, mouth
silhouettes in white fur,
search the empty blurred
house for comfort from
the edge of my bed.
He circles three times
after each turn forgetting
his purpose. He is blind,
deaf. I imagine a canine
senility, something like
my grandmother at Christmas,
she asks each grandchild’s name
like Linnaean flower taxonomy
and ignores the frightened girl
forced into the wheelchair lap
for a final family portrait.
From a distant room
I hear my mother at my father’s
foot. She asks of numbness
darkened, hardening skin
the death of flesh.
The dog sits down.

Graham Irvin has two Bachelor of Arts degrees from North Carolina State University, in Anthropology and English, and has worked as a projectionist, a lifeguard, and a book binder. He has published poetry in multiple journals, a short story in Shaqzine, and conducted the Spring 2015 feature interview of Main Street Rag Literary Magazine. He is currently enrolled in the poetry MFA program at University of North Carolina Wilmington.