'With him gone the house had begun to float out onto emptiness'

entry picture

There are three and a half million of you reading this column in print and online, 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.


by Ted Kooser 

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. 


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 © 2017 by Ted Kooser, 'Death of a Dog'. Poem reprinted by permission of Ted Kooser. Introduction © 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 2004-06.



◄ Write Out Loud Woking at the New Inn tonight

Write Out Loud Sale at the Waterside tonight ►


Profile image

M.C. Newberry

Tue 11th Jul 2017 14:30

Anyone who has owned a dog - or knows someone who has
- will surely find this resonating in their consciousness.
My sister Nicci has always kept dogs and one such - a
bearded collie called "Sue" - was a particularly memorable
example. When she passed, I tried to imagine how my
sister must have felt about her loss and my poem began...
"Sometimes, alone, I see her face,
I hear her on the stair;
I hold my arms out to embrace
My Sue -and she'll be there."

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message