(I would prefer not to.  Herman Melville—Bartleby the Scrivener)

the dog howled on and off     all day long     police found Pat in her recliner

a week after forced retirement     at her memorial     a water-stained picture

she, young, in a ruffled polka dot dress     the priest     several library employees

three estranged children     two sons, a daughter     her life, a total disconnect

disconnect oxygen     go outside, smoke     reconnect

unpack new books    stamp Property of put on a cart for the catalogers

hated potlucks     If you give me a birthday party     I’ll have to take a vacation day

never talked to anyone     we didn’t even know     the name of her dog

yet, here we are     at her memorial     the priest leaves her unsung

talks about our immortal souls     are you ready, folks? harangues the offspring

tuning out the sermon, we weep     ponder     not one friend?

what about the husband, her children?    macabre query     desire to comprehend

or to assuage our guilt?     could we have done more?     she wasn’t our responsibility

after all, we tried, didn’t we?     then, come back to the library     gather money

buy books in her name     7 Steps to a Smoke-free Life Taking Care of the Older Pet

The Wicked Flea, a Dog Lover’s Mystery homage     to the gods of reconnect