Patricia Clark

Canine Elegy
October 24, 2018 Clark Patricia

Canine Elegy

All over town, dogs are lying down
for the last time—how many bright balls
lost in grass, Frisbees sent spinning on air?

What shall be done with crate and leash,
collar, basket of toys, blanket for sitting in the car?
All over town, dogs are lying down.

We mark her life as she left, in turn,
marks on things she chewed—Christmas tree string
of lights, chair legs—and on us, too.

She never dug holes in the yard, refused to run
after the wood chuck I told her to chase, or kill.
She bolted once or twice after deer.

All over town, dogs are lying down
for the final time—who do we grieve for,
them, or for ourselves? We scrub their bowls,

the rug, hang up the leash. Will there be
a next dog? Always, she did anything I asked—
jumped a hurdle, or leapt onto a fallen log.

If ever I hurt her, it was an accident—foot I stepped on
in the dark, hair clipped too close. Dogs are lying down
to rest, forever, all over town: Molly, Raef, and Scout—

giving up their last breaths, leaving us to applaud
how avid for life they were even as eyes
clouded, hips gave way on stairs. Images stay:

dog pushing her muzzle into snow, licking the face
of a veteran hunched in a wheelchair at the park, or
sitting to let a child touch her velvet ear.

Fur lies in corners of the house, sticky like
a bur on clothes. Dogs are lying down in places all
over town, and us with them, at the last.

Patricia Clark is the author of six volumes of poetry, including Sunday Rising, The Canopy and most recently Self Portrait with a Million Dollars. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Gettysburg Review, Poetry, Plume, and Slate, among others. She received the 2018 Book of the Year Award from Poetry Society of Virginia for The Canopy. Her new book, her seventh, O Lucky Day is forthcoming in January 2025 from Madville Publishing.