Old Dog

Old Dog was published in Out Loud: A Year in Review 2017.

My daddy said
The dog was dead
When we hadn’t seen her for days
“A dog just knows
It’s time to go and aloneness is what it craves.”
I could have hugged her
And held her close and whispered in her ear
“Please don’t go, I love you so
Stay here,
Stay here.”

When my mother died my dad grew old
So I checked on him each day
But his oxygen tank and his whiskey glass
Behaved like angry waves.
He called one night and said, “I’m going,”
And traveled from Georgia to Maine
With his thirsty son and his loaded guns
To desolate frozen beauty

I looked for the dog in the hollow fields
And on the worn path in the woods
Called her name and sobbed aloud
When she would not come to me,
Obligations to the departed
Are difficult to fill, and obligations to the
Are even harder still.

My brother said don’t bother to come
There was nothing I could do
But I left, bereft, to his home in Maine
And traveled back in a blizzard
Unafraid and ready to trade
My sadness for my solace,
For I had held his hand in that bleak land
And faced the fear of living.
“I love you so,
It’s okay to go,”
Obligation given.


Jonesport, ME (2004)