I know that you will not come back
Not answer to my call or whistle
Not come even at your pleasure
As was your way.
Yet, I will leave your “good dog” pad and dish
Beside the kitchen sink, a while.
Your rawhide bone beneath a chair
The cans of dog food on the shelf
Your favorite ball, which you
hid in the boxwood hedge.

I’ll listen in the early morning light,
For your muted huff, not quite a bark,
Suggesting you be let out.
And lie in half-sleep until
I hear your harplike
Single scratch upon the screen
To signal you had answered nature’s call
Made your accustomed rounds
Checked the limits of the grounds,
For trace of groundhogs, raccoons, even bears
And now returned intent on sleep
On bed, or rug, or floor
depending on your mood.

And if not answered,
Lie down in silent protest
Against my failure to respond
And to show resentment of the
Indifference of the stolid door.

I will not yet remove
The mist of dog hair
From your favorite chair.
Not yet discard the frazzled frisbee
You could catch, making plays,
Going away, like Willie Mays.
But having proved your skill
Refused to fetch;
Let retrievers tire themselves
In repetitious runs, you seemed to say.
You would run figure eights,
Disdaining simple circles
Jump hedges just for sport.
Eat holes in woolen blankets
But leave untouched
the silk or satin bindings.
Herd sheep and cattle
Spurn running rabbits and deer,
That would not play your game.

You swam with ducks
And walked among wild geese.
Ate Turns but not Rolaids,
You knew no dog-like shame.
And died by no dog’s disease at end,
But by one that also lays its claim on men.

Eugene McCarthy