From Issue 13: "mr sausage" by alison whitelock (Poetry)

"mr sausage" originally appeared in Issue 13 of Tahoma Literary Review

mr sausage

by alison whitelock


                        i had other names for him besides hector.

a woman on the beach heard me call him bubbles once.

then mr sausage. she stopped to pat him, ‘so his name’s

bubbles?’ she asked. no i said. awkwardly. it’s hector.

then she asked about the mr sausage thing only i didn’t

have an answer except he loves sausages. by that rationale

i could also have called him mr bacon, mr pizza, mr sticky

date pudding, mr ben & jerry’s new york fudge, mr t-bone

steak, señor paella, herr chicken schnitzel, monsieur ratatouille.

the only names i could never have called him were mr tahini,

mr alfalfa sprout, mr cucumber crudite.                                                         

                        i suspect dog owners who say,

oh you should get another dog have yet to find themselves

soaking in the too much garlic marinade of loss that seeps deep

into the folds of the chicken tenderloins of their existence.

then they bang on about how the joy a dog brings far outweighs

the sadness once they’re gone. does it? i say, pulling

my jumper out at the neck and staring down towards

my heart that still houses the grief i thought would only

be on a short term lease but is still there, with its three

piece suite, its king size bed, its louis the XV dining

table with eight matching chairs.

                        it’s been three years.

my heart is still fragile. getting another dog now

would be like biting into a chocolate liqueur. the structure

of the chocolate case cannot withstand the pressure of my bite.

the entire thing collapses. sticky liqueur squirts from my mouth

dribbles down onto the collar of my white silk shirt.

i take the shirt to the dry cleaner. he has seen these stains before.

he points to his arsenal of stain removing chemicals—one for sausages,

one for pizza, one for unrelenting grief.

he tells me he will do his best

but he cannot promise



Reprinted with the permission of the poet

ali had this to say about "mr sausage":

Our dog Hector was a huge part of our lives. We took him everywhere with us—to the cinema, to work, to the grocery store. Once he was gone, there was nowhere we could escape to without being reminded of him. Grief stains us. At times it feels indelible. This poem offers that perhaps we never truly recover from great loss, but somehow, we learn to walk alongside it.

ali whitelock is a Scottish poet and writer. Her memoir, Poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell was launched to critical acclaim in Australia and the UK and her debut poetry collection, and my heart crumples like a coke can, has just been published by Wakefield Press, Australia.