Pavlov’s dog can’t wake the dead
Next to the power station,
in the middle of a perfect summer afternoon,
six police SUVs show up whirring, one after another
with compounding portent.
They unload half a dozen officers near all at once,
some with assault rifles shouldered,
all with guns drawn,
stepping briskly for the house two houses down.
It’s the house where the woman with the little dog lives,
the Yorkie that ran away out the front gate,
that my housemate found & brought back,
the housemate who later ran away
to his girlfriend’s house
& her heroin
but kept paying rent before the fifth of the month.
The woman two houses down waved at all of us after that,
from her front porch step
dog running around inside her wire-fenced-in yard
while she smoked cigarettes & looked at her phone
like all of us do.
So we were neighbors
of the sort people are in such times as this,
waving Hi’s while never speaking
or chatting thru phone screen pecks.
But now the bald, bespectacled man
who also lives in the house two houses down
stands out front & points
to direct the well-armed officers inside.
One with holstered gun stays out with him
in the fenced-in yard where the dog escaped
& ran around.
Behind another intensifying siren
there’s the deep engine churn of a firetruck arriving,
promising ambulance, too.
Big red engine & boxy white little sibling,
they park at the power station,
across the street from the house two houses down.
Officers have begun to come out,
guns no longer pointed anywhere in particular
if out at all.
Whatever crisis there was is over,
and the look on their faces is uncomplicated
by possibility of happy resolution.
The mood is not at all softened
by the Yorkie carried securely
in one police officer’s arms.
Paramedics wearing green ponchos
rush across the street
toward the house two houses down,
laden with a stretcher & other gear
before intercepted in the lawn
by an officer just leaving
the home they’re heading for.
The paramedics in green ponchos set down their equipment
& walk inside. Soon, they’ll leave with it,
never bringing anything life-saving
across the front porch step,
and they’ll drive away,
engines churning but lights & sirens muted.
No one is ever put on the stretcher or loaded into the ambulance.
The officers with rifles & well-strapped handguns leave,
replaced by those with less prominent firearms
& more bars on their shoulders.
On the phone, a shaved-headed officer with wraparound sunglasses
calls it in,
saying the word loud enough for it to echo
off the power station
& to a front porch two houses down.
She was 59, and I only learn her name
from the death notice printed three days after,
from the county tax assessor website to be sure.
Wailing women will drive up hours later
to share in active grief & comfort touching.
Until then, the bald, bespectacled man sits alone
in one of the dark green lawn chairs,
talking to an officer who scribbles dutifully on clipboard-backed paper forms
in a chair next to him
against the wire fence of the front yard.
Someone sets the Yorkie down between the chairs,
but the man doesn’t notice it,
and it runs around the yard,
but everyone is sure to close the gate behind them.