On Losing the Old Dog by Rae Spencer

On Losing the Old Dog

It’s bad enough the car is empty
No panting navigator
But the house is empty, too

Dog empty, anyway
Cats don’t fill the same spaces

So we stumble to the bedroom
Seizure-soiled and shocked
By the sudden expected loss

Six months of grasping last gasps
New medicines and doses, new emergencies

Years beyond the playful toss and fetch
Leashed by arthritis, deaf and blind
The old dog had withered to mostly heart

We had withered with her
Miserable in our indecision

Hobbled by her pain
And ours
Holding on for dear life

Now gathering the cold grief
Of losing her too soon, the hot guilt

Of letting go too late, the hopeless
Clutter of responsibility and love
The empty hours ahead

by Rae Spencer

Rae on Twitter: @raespen_

Editor’s Note: Some poems speak directly to the heart. This is one of those poems.


3 responses to “On Losing the Old Dog by Rae Spencer”

  1. Shelly Blankman Avatar
    Shelly Blankman

    This is a beautifully written poem. Your pain is palpable because of your strong imagery that captures your emotions perfectly. For anyone who’s poured his/her energy into caring for a sick pet and the void that’s left at end, it’s hard to read your poem without reliving the same pain. I hope in some way writing this was cathartic for you. Nice job.

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  3. David W. Parsley Avatar

    I confess I could not get all the way through this poem at first attempt, not just for its delivery of a palpable reminder of my own grief and regret, but also because I small-heartedly resented the narrator’s selfishness in prolonging the beloved pet’s life too long. Only by forcing my way to the conclusion do I experience a resonant self-loathing and uncertainty among the many fishhooks barbing this poem’s beating heart. I feel it, too, and empathize.

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