Leveler Poetry Journal
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The Old Dog’s Lament


I was barking all the time when
I was a pup. I couldn’t get
enough of the sound of my high
vagabond voice, the parallel
report from the ridge-scraped barn,
glaciated pond. The turtle,
even the heron stopped to hear
my song! I was a blithe boy!

And those days spun out, unbroken.
Then I met the yellow bitch with
the feral smell, exhorting voice.
She and I—we became one beast,
our fur commingling on the hill,
mouths eating wind, feet in tandem.


Even after, coming to see
my sweet in that last place—splayed and
spread where she found her end (I could
barely suss her fur there, dead, grayed
among last summer’s sere stems),
her smell still lay, heavy, on the hay.
I had jaw-dragged her after
the tire’s bump and thud, listened as
she whimpered her awful death.
But I could not stop her going.

No one has to tell me to cease
my sorrow-song. I carry her face
behind my eyes, now and then lift
my head at what I recollect—
her bark, joy-struck eyes, tail thrilling
against our days’ blue, blue skies.

Bertha Rogers