On the Resurrection of Beloved Dogs (poem)

“Everything is mortal. It dies. But its parts don’t die. Its parts become something else. And we know that when we bury a dog in the garden. And with a rose bush on top of it.”

(Mary Oliver, interview with Krista Tippett)

Beloved Otis.
Beloved Otis.

Perfect inverse proportion:

as your days wane,

your hours on the grass


Suburban dog you have become,

so you cannot wander off

into the woods to die alone

though I think your bones and sinews,

pleading in their conclusive pain,

call you yet to do so.

So you sit in the yard.

You shiver in the cold.

And still you prefer it.

And why not?

The pain cannot be abated.

So why suffer within false walls?

Not, when you hear the earth

beckoning you home…

O! how I wish to learn the lesson

you offer there on the lawn,

the same our last gone dog did:

no fear of the grave we dig in the yard,

nothing but a natural laying-next-to,

no haunting forethought of death.

This is our small civil disobedience,

in full submission to natural law.

The poet lover and griever of dogs says

that when we bury our dogs in the garden,

a new rose bush atop, we enact the holy truth

that in death, the small parts do not die,

but become something else.

Dare anyone call that something other than resurrection?

3 thoughts on “On the Resurrection of Beloved Dogs (poem)

  1. As one who has buried many a four legged buddy, and even has a pit for the purpose down at the end of the field….I would never dare to call it anything else. Peace be with you Karen, in YOUR transition. Love

  2. The curate thinks you have no soul;
    I know that he has none. But you,
    Dear friend, whose solemn self-control,
    In our foursquare familiar pew,
    Was pattern to my youth — whose bark
    Called me in summer dawns to rove —
    Have you gone down into the dark
    Where none is welcome — none may love?
    I will not think those good brown eyes
    Have spent their life of truth so soon;
    But in some canine paradise
    Your wraith, I know, rebukes the moon,
    And quarters every plain and hill,
    Seeking his master… As for me,
    This prayer at least the gods fulfill;
    That when I pass the flood and see
    Old Charon by the Stygian coast
    Take toll of all the shades who land,
    Your little, faithful, barking ghost
    May leap to lick my phantom hand.

    — St.John Lucas

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