A bill from the urgent care center
in Mesa, Arizona,
is addressed to Lisa Steinhoff,
whoever she was:
no one called Steinhoff lives
on Painted Rock Trail today.
I lean over the console of the truck,
write “Not at this address!”,
and slip it in the outgoing mail.
Ten days ago Saturday
we put our Russian Blue down,
after midnight, bundling her crate
into the Subaru for the long drive,
to the only open vet, far out of town.
I sweet-talked her, our little girl
(though in people years
she was sixty-four, or sixty-five).
But repeating the sad drive again,
leaving the clinic again,
this time in full sun June
I carry the box with her ashes
to the car, gently, like a newborn,
cradling the deep blue bag,
the ribboned sleeve from the crematorium.
I half expected to lift the lid
for her last lesson of dust,
but the box is fastened shut:
Spanish cedar, corners rounded,
joints seamless, sweetly smelling
in the unseasonable heat.
And on the forty-mile route back north
despite myself, knowing she is not her body,
not at this address,
I talk to the cedar box,
warm in the cab of the truck
warm as her head was in the moment before,
her ears then, like old carpet,
ragged with age.