No Cute Pets
Zoe, Leaving

You were never one for the lap. Would I hoist you up
your heft twisted, your muzzle reached
until ground found your feet. Tonight you slump,
indolent on my legs, uncaring for the morsel
that comes with compliance. You are only old. Hound years
walked by me – traded one for seven until you were worn
as my mother asleep in her bed – teeth smiling
from the bottom of a bathroom glass. Never mind the cat
or her nose that inspects you in long stitches. Tomorrow
is for chasing. Rest and let me tend your skin
that weeps wax from taxed kidneys . I’ll pick it away, tend the tender
spots that bloom below your coat like wet roses. A bit of aloe–
but no flinch from a cold poultice.

Pick up that paw and climb these steps. If not,
then let me step down and carry you in a hurry to rest my head.
Let me nose your rancid hair. Perhaps a bath
tomorrow. You’re a thin pillow in my arms. No ancestral circling
when I set you on the bed. No washing of the paws, long licks
on rust and white in canine meditation. Why such a hurry
to sleep? Uncurl from your comma and rest next to me
on this two-dog night. If not, then sleep where you are. Dream
of warm grass and quick-cat chases. Tomorrow morning when your skin
twitches like water skippers – when I tug at the covers
and your weight won’t respond – let me wrap you in the yellowed linen
set you deep in the dirt, and before flowers
a stretch of mesh to keep this soil still.

Copyright 2013,  Catherine Sutthoff Slaton

Catherine Sutthoff Slaton is a member of the Seattle poets’ collectives Hobo and Greenwood Poets. Her first published poem is in Soundings Spring/Summer 2013 issue. When not working on poetry or creative non-fiction, she can be found sifting small stones from her garden.

<< Previous      Contents      Next   >>