The house and garden are in joint
ambush to jolt us into remembering
the lawns where you rolled whenever we returned,
the scratched back door when it was thundering,
the spot by the fowl-house where you sat,
pricked-ears, for hours, listening to the chickens,
the raised flooring where you slept every night
– all around us now the plot thickens,
the lines of your life run deep: the book closed,
you run on in our own mortal quest
and where we had thought the story ended
we can see now you will not let us rest
but compel us to attend you just the same,
lamenting the bones buried deep
under the latest seed-beds and defying
your present muddy-nosed long sleep,
rousing yourself at the needle’s first touch,
shrewd, beautiful as always, and the storm
of feelings in our hearts is where you now lay your head
and we stroke your ears, velvet warm.
This is a very poignant poem on the loss of a much loved family dog. Bimbo had obviously been part of home and garden for many years. The absence defines the grief – the house and garden never quite the same and they continue to give joint ambush.
But in line eight the plot thickens … there are more lines, as there are more lines to the story of the family who must attend to the aftermath of the dog who has left bones buried deep.
And then the death of the dog is remembered – rousing yourself at the needle’s first touch and the intense feelings still lie warm – touching the family as before in a very direct way.
This is very much a poem about grief associated with the early days of loss. Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘The Walk’ comes to mind, incidentally Hardy was very much a dog lover.