Thursday, November 15, 2012
Epitaph to a dog
She was surely of noble birth,
though we know not where or exactly when.
It hardly matters, so regal was her bearing:
the Cleopatra eyes, the thrust of her jaw, and rich merle of her coat--
shades of a sandstone cliff.
Noble Abby. A dog among dogs. Singular, first in our hearts.
An unwavering companion, she is with me in health and in sickness.
Lying patiently, eyes darting, a wiggle of the nose. Waiting, watching.
Then a soft moan.
Fond of many people, but by no means all, she nudges my arm,
sloshing coffee from my mug. It's her signal.
Always ready, eagerly willing at the rattle of a leash.
She dances on toenails across the hardwood floor, crazy with delight.
Then a bolt out the door, she strains forward.
"Let's run," and run she does. Bounding like a deer
in the comical pursuit of mice and voles;
or splashing languidly through the foamy wavelets along the beach;
or matching me stride for stride on long runs through fields and city streets.
She glances sideways, smiling that sly doggy smile.
Her chest bursting for joy, as we share the sheer pleasure of being alive.
And now Abby, dear Noble Abby, sleeps in the cold ground.
She no longer stands near her master's side,
searching me for whatever comes next.
I can offer her no morsel from my plate,
no scratch of silken fur behind the ears,
nor will I again be shocked by a quick, sloppy lick across my cheek.
There is no more guardian of this pauper, as if I were a prince.
Dear friend, you have gone to your rest.
Noble Abby. A dog among dogs. First in my heart.