Farewell to Skye

Little death of a little dog
In a death-wish world of news by body-count
What is a little death?

Yesterday, your own authentic self,
Though slowed and weighed with fourteen zestful years,
You nursed your loved routines almost to the end.
This morning finds you not yet cold, but stiffening
In the old box you owned since puppyhood.

How close and sharp, in coming days and months,
Your shape will haunt us like an elusive ghost:
An anxious face watching us drive away,
A scuttering scamper greeting our return,
A punctual nip reminding biscuit-time,
An old sack yielding still its faint aroma.

Today we dig your grave in the back garden –
Your range, patrolled with territorial care –
And rest you, ears still pricked, coat fine and wheaten,
Comely to the last, secure in your own ground.

Here lie, untroubled by alarms and scandals
Unbearable in life – nefarious cats
On odious paws brazenly passing by,
Door-knocks unchallenged, treasured bones at risk,
And insults from the next-door Pekinese
Flung through the fence, evoking no riposte.

All that we know: a life and course completed.
We tread the kindred earth, and set a stone
To mark the place where lies what is not you.

Richard’s choice


Poems of Nature