I have an old dog named Chamberlain,
We work together on nights Allie is away,
He’s blind in his left eye and he walks sideways,
Toward me as I sit hunched over the old Olivetti,
That I use to type poems on,
It’s in the corner of the sun porch that Allie,
Closed in last summer to keep out the snow.
He leans against me for support,
Old yellow head on my flannel pajamas,
Tongue hanging out. I feel his breath through the plaid,
He’s old and dying, but we both ignore it,
Dying is a rite of passage, like being born in a litter,
Or being born an orphan, or even like finding,
Yourself trapped, in years of late,
In an old farmhouse – up in the Poconos.
Rites of passage, they kill us in the end.
Allie comes home from work at twelve thirty and finds us,
Me, the Olivetti, Chamberlain, and an unfinished poem.
Allie makes a fried egg sandwich for us,
And we eat it on the porch.
Chamberlain licks my paper plate clean when we’re done,
After that we all watch tv until dawn,
The unfinished poem waits for another day.
Before we go to bed, Allie cups her hands over his ears,
She draws his face close to hers, and says,
“He’s 98 in dog years, if he makes it three more weeks”.
Ed’s Note: I have not written much poetry in recent years, but I used to write quite a bit of it. I am in the process of sifting through a lot of the old stuff, seeing what I want to keep and what I don’t. My collection, titled “Wearing Earth Tones in a Savage Land” is in the works and will appear here for a nominal price (like free) in a few weeks.