(Click above for an audio recording of my reading this poem.)
There is a place
Where I live, alone, yet with
Others so afflicted.
We straddle a torturous bypass we all
One day must make,
When we will fall into the decaying river of life,
When our exit.
In this way, yes, sudden, like a blood splayed
Car crash, or a hummingbird
Flying into the forest reflected in the window glass, at last.
But arriving, getting here,
Bound to this cliff, perched on this rock
— (Where are the sea nymphs,
To wail for me, as for Prometheus?) —
Has been a dripping away,
Like a slowly leaking faucet.
Years of laying waste, wasted
Decades of laying in one’s own coffin
Top ajar, coming and going, sometimes
Standing at the edge of the grave
With one’s friends and family, mourning,
The next moment levitating up and flying away
Like one of those women
Days blend into months,
Months into years.
One boundless joy,
My dog’s woolly scent,
Come in from the rain,
Fragrant as honeysuckle.
My dog’s spirit, free,
Like the wild stormy sea.
My dog’s eyes, chestnut brown,
Like the fertile soil under which my spring lupines abound.
My dog’s body, like one of those plush hush puppy
White-combed sheep rugs
I begged my parents for,
Forty-five years ago,
Which I longed to crawl into,
My dog’s snout, soft as the back of a tufted titmouse,
My dog’s nose, dense chocolate, velvety black, leading the way,
Starlight in a moonless night.
My dog’s ears, upright, like downy turtledoves.
My dog’s paws…
Ah, how every lover of Dog
Adores the musty odor on the pads on their beloved’s feet, and
Should I bottle the scent of my dog’s paws, capture the smell of
Those moist scent pads
At the bottom of this Alaskan Malamute’s enormous paws,
I would be a famous woman.
Alas. My dog’s tail,
Once a gracious youthful flip of thick Malamute fur,
Now a naked hollow thump
On the wood floor.
© Susan Lynn Gesmer, Love Poem To My Dog, 2003