It's ten p.m.
and my dog is telling me what to do.
You can't go to bed, she says,
until Davey has his pills
and I can't
until you have your cocoa,
so Sit! Stay!
till I tell you it's okay.
I know everything
that's done in this house
and the mouse
that lives under the tv
is my friend.
When did I fall in love with you?
Was it when I saw you bundled
nose to bottom with your brothers
or the moment you decided to detach,
explore, and I admired your intellect,
aplomb? Or was it when at last
you discovered – not me, exactly,
but my toes – and waddled over
for a nibble, spaniel mine?
You found I had two feet,
finished one, then started on the other.
Licking my toes became your sacrament,
sandals that led me into the barn
that hot June morning, my salvation.
A cry of anguish as I leave the house …
Alice, my dog of thirteen years,
is ninety-one in human terms and nearly
blind -- her world, the vet says, seen
through dark glasses. I used to celebrate
her independence, but now she clings
as if each separation means forever.
I always say a careful goodbye before
going down our path to get the mail,
tell her we’ll meet outside as I go
out the front and she through her own
back door – but still she cries until
I’m in her view and she in mine.
We hold our hearts together, she and I.