Poem: An Old Dog Teaches My Dog to Swim

For Neptune and Nina, friends
By Elizabeth Johnston, October 2018
old dog swimming

At the pond the old lab dives in,
chasing his splashes,
while my pup bounds like a colt,
creeps close to water’s edge,
jumps back, whines,
wavers between solid ground
and the instinct that will prevail:
to join her friend in play,
root fishes from the mud,
release sleek body, webbed toes, rudder-like tail.
I suppose this is how love of anything goes:
eventually we give up the shore.
Why lament the inevitable,
 grieve the grey in an old dog’s coat,
 the hip that gives out,
 clouds gathering in his eyes?
In the end, we are as reckless with love as animals,
pretending, perhaps, to see only what they do:
 pond, after pond, after wonderful pond.
 

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