'The way we need to learn to live with wasting'

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I can't help wishing that dogs lived as long as we do. I have buried a number of them, and it doesn't get any easier. In fact, it gets harder. Here's Mark Vinz, a Minnesota poet, from his book Permanent Record and Other Poems, from Red Dragonfly Press. 

The Way We Said Goodbye 

So many years later, the old dog

still circles, head lowered, crippled by

arthritis, nearly blind, incontinent.

We repeat the litany, as if we need

convincing that the end is right.


I'll get her an ice cream cone if you'll

drive her to the vet, my wife says.

So there we sit on the front steps

with our friend, and in the car, as always,

when she senses the doctor's office

drawing near, she moans and tries to

burrow underneath the seats.


What remains, the memory of how

she taught us all the way we need

to learn to live with wasting.

There we sit, together, one last time

as all that sweetness slowly disappears.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2015 by Mark Vinz, 'The Way We Said Goodbye', from Permanent Record and Other Poems, (Red Dragonfly Press, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Mark Vinz and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 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 2004-06.





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