by Jimmy Carter
Always a Reckoning

Yesterday I killed him. I had known
for months I could not let him live. I might
have paid someone to end it, but I knew
that after fifteen years of sharing life
the bullet ending his must be my own.

Alone, I dug the grave, grieving, knowing
that until the last he trusted me.
I placed him as he'd been some years ago
when, lost, he stayed in place until I came
and found him shaking, belly on hte ground,
his legs too sapped of strength to hold him up,
but nose nad eyes still holding on the point.
I knelt beside him then to stroke his head--
as I had done so much the last few days.

He couldn't feel the tears and sweat that fell
with shovelfuls of earth. And then a cross--
a cross, I guess, so when I pass that way
I'll breathe his name,
and think of him alive,
and somehow not remember yesterday.

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