Frank Russo’s poetry collection In the Museum of Creation was published by Five Islands Press in 2015. His writing has been published in journals such as Southerly, Contrappasso, Copperfield Review, Cactus Heart, Pacific Review and in anthologies in Australia, the United States and Canada. His is completing a doctorate at the University of Sydney.
One month after Senor Flores’ death, his widow, Dona Carlinda, arranged a Mind Mass in the Church of Christ Saviour. Father Alonso donned a purple chasuble over his alb. Dona Carlinda sat in the front pew, flanked by her children, facing her husband’s photograph, placed where his bier had lain.
As the sacraments of the Eucharist were taken to the altar, a dog appeared at the church’s vestibule. It watched as Father Alonso blessed the wafers and wine, and as he offered Dona Carlinda and her children each a host, the dog made its way down the aisle as if also wanting to receive benediction.
Word grew of how Senor Flores had attended his own Mind Mass in the form of a dog.
Word grew of how his widow saw his form in all the animals that approached her.
How she saw Senor Flores in the gecko that clicked to her each night outside her bathroom window.
How she saw him in the iguana that visited her yard each morning to spit salt.
How she saw him in the rock dove which she threw barley seeds to each afternoon.
On Sundays Dona Carlinda walked to the cemetery with her daughter, Pilar, to lay flowers on Senor Flores’ grave. The day she cut a bouquet of trumpet flowers from her garden, a jackal-like dog appeared behind the cemetery and headed towards her. Dona Carlinda and Pilar turned and walked back towards the town.
As they passed the tombs along the roadside a second dog appeared. They hurried their pace. Nearing the lagoon, they turned and saw four dogs following them. They ran, wishing the city of tombs had walls high enough to trap its spirits.