Santa, age 6


1985 ----- October 2, 1999

Irish Setter


My Autumn Dog

It is the autumn of the year
With its golds, oranges and reds.
You are my autumn dog
With your rusty coat.
They named you Santa
For your red coat,
But got the color and the season wrong.
We matched you and I
Till I too entered my autumn.
You came to me in the early autumn,
A Labour Day 12 years ago.
I was alone and you abandoned for a second time.
We bonded on that autumn day.
I promised you I'd never let you go,
But the time has come.
It is again autumn and
You will leave us tomorrow, forever.
I will remember you for your beauty, loyalty,
And mostly for your love.
You were forever with us.
Santa who went to work with me
And waited for my visits at breaks.
Santa who went with me everywhere.
Santa who found every way to escape from the hated kennel.
Santa who yodeled when I came home.
Santa who accepted Puppy Kate.
Santa who was friendly to all who came.
Santa who ran for the joy of it.
Santa who went on trail rides and walks with us.
Santa who barked non stop at the horses.
Santa who spent your evenings in the arena with me
Or in the computer room with Vic.
Santa who cuddled on the bed with me
And would not let me up till I had patted you enough.
Santa who will not be with us after tomorrow.
Know that we have loved you as you have loved us.

Santa, when you awaken beyond,
May you run for the joy of it
And know you are with us forever.
Good-bye, my Autumn dog.





the music in a dog
for Santa

My fingers long to play
gentle glissandos
over the molten copper of your fur,
and tease behind your ears
for a long contented groan like some low bassoon.

All you ever asked,
that we be there to receive
your solos of boundless love
and occasionally shelter you in our arms
from the celestial percussion of thunderstorms.

Bach's music in the background,
so often you sat patiently,
never critiquing,
never offering false assurance,
while I planned and fretted
at the computer,
and when a crescendo
of anthropoidal anxiety
shivered my soul,
your warm breath at my knee
was love's continuo
resolving worries into serenity.

And when I slouched up the steps,
dragging metallic dissonance home from the factory,
I could always see you jigging there,
perilously perched on the bookshelf
to glimpse out the high window,
long ears flipping,
long tongue flapping,
in the joy of your dance,
and the key in the lock
was your cue to commence
an antic hornpipe of howls
choreographed to end
with your head in my hand.

Music exists only in time,
but time ends all music,
and time at last,
first slowed, then stopped,
the merry metronome
of your tail.

By the cedar hedge
where the cardinal calls
may earth enfold you in
the endless symphony
of the seasons and the stars.