American Life in Poetry: Column 642

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BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

There are three and a half million of you reading this column in print and on-line, and I appreciate every one of you. I want to take advantage of your attention to pass along the news of the death of my dear old yellow Lab, Howard, at age fifteen, in the hope that a few of you will join me in wishing him well on his trip to the stars. Here’s how it has felt, to me, to lose my good friend.

Death of a Dog

The next morning I felt that our house
had been lifted away from its foundation
during the night, and was now adrift,
though so heavy it drew a foot or more
of whatever was buoying it up, not water
but something cold and thin and clear,
silence riffling its surface as the house
began to turn on a strengthening current,
leaving, taking my wife and me with it,
and though it had never occurred
to me until that moment, for fifteen years
our dog had held down what we had
by pressing his belly to the floors,
his front paws, too, and with him gone
the house had begun to float out onto
emptiness, no solid ground in sight.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2017 by Ted Kooser. Poem reprinted by permission of Ted Kooser. Introduction copyright © 2017 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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