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He has done what he has done each winter morning
since laying claim to the couch the day we adopted him--
followed the sun along its cushioned landscape
from one tufted yellow arm to the other.
Though he appears to be sleeping, his pointed ears
swivel as I walk through the room.
I have washed the old bedspread and folded it
over the back of a chair.
We have paced each hour
the fenced backyard as he teetered on the ice
straining to express a few small drops of rosy piss.
The snow is melting.
He will be gone this time tomorrow
Our vet will pull into the driveway
with a weary kindness and two needles.
The last thing we will give him is not sleep
but a painless death.
We will save his dish. We will keep his green collar
on its hook at the back door.
In the middle of the night when he thinks
I’m asleep, Bill will weep without sound
shaking the bed like a curse at God
who allowed a shoe-stealer who pulled at the leash
until he passed out, a dog with an unmeetable need
for attention, to sleep between us for a decade, then leave us
to learn again how to comfort each other.
Copyright 2020 Leslie McGrath
Leslie McGrath’s books include Feminists Are Passing From Our Lives (Word Works, 2018).