My dog Shakes

Shakes (William Shakespeare May 2000-November 2012)

For Shakes
By Brett Sutcliffe

For the second time in her life
my mother holds her dying baby
but for the first time
she holds a
canine.
By dimmed lights my family
gathers around our beloved
dog, who held on
one too many days as
fluid from his own heart slowly
strangled the life from
his furry body and dimmed
the light of his eyes.
Six to eight months was
an overestimate. It only
took him three. Nobody
said it would be fair.
My mother said she had
scheduled a vet appointment
for tomorrow, but he didn’t
hold on long enough and
here I sit face to face
watching death at work
for the first time in
my life.
Silence befalls my
normally bustling house,
the only music that plays
is the wind blowing
on the tube bell chimes, the
cars hissing past outside,
and the chorus of birds
as they head south
on this lonely, windy
winter night.
And we wait in hushed
contemplation as my mom
tells him that it’s okay
to go, that he doesn’t
need to be in pain any
longer.
His tired lungs and his
eager heart put to rest, at
long last we wrap
him in a white blanket as
his brother, the runt, stares
in confusion, and yelps
in dismay, and the other
only wants to play,
but not tonight.
I dress to face the night, armor
against the bitterness of
the dark, unforgiving world.
My stepfather is armed
with a shovel and a
lantern, and my brother a
flashlight and his silver
flask, and me cradling
my beloved friend,
wrapped in the white
blanket, as if he could be
sleeping,
By new moon they dig,
heralded by choruses
of wind and bird,
they split the earth
with steel as the Earth splits
me with unfairness. We
are motivated by silence, ushered
onward by pain and
necessity,
and caressed by
the cold of night and life.
I lay my dog
to rest in the last
bed in which he will sleep. It
is a bed of earth
under my mother’s
window where he will always
be close to her own bed where
he used to rest.
Through the white
blanket I can still feel
warmth.
His body was
dead long before
his spirit.

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4 thoughts on “My dog Shakes

  1. What a wonderful poem your son wrote. It is so very hard to lose them… But, I refuse not to take in as many as I can and give them as much as I can. They give back one thousand fold…

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