Poem of the Week
Monday, April 16, 2012
Widow and Dog by Kumin, Maxine
After he died she started letting the dog
sleep on his side of the bed they had shared
for fifty-one years. A large discreet dog, he stayed
on his side but the tags on his collar jingled as he sighed
and especially when he scratched so she took his collar off
and then his smooth tawny bulk close to her but not
touching eased her through the next night and the next.
One morning, a chipmunk and his wife somehow slipped in
through the screen door when neither of them was looking.
She got up screaming from her coffee and whacked at them
with a broom. Dog pounced and pounced but they were faster
than he was and dove under the refrigerator. After a while
he stopped crashing into chairs and skidding around corners
in fruitless pursuit and then they came and went untroubled
even drinking out of his water dish, their tails at right angles.
That summer it just seemed simpler to leave the window
by the bird feeder open for ease of refilling. Some creatures
slipped casually out and in. The titmice were especially graceful.
She loved to watch them elevate and retract their crests
whenever they perched on the lips of the kitchen counters.
The goldfinches chittered and sang like drunken canaries
and once in a thunderstorm a barred owl blundered
into that fake crystal chandelier she had always detested.
Autumn fell on them in a joyous rush. The first
needles of hard frost, the newly sharp wind, the final
sweep and swirl of leaves, a swash of all-day rain
were not unwelcome. Hickory nuts ricocheted
off the barn's metal roof like a rain of beebee-gun pellets.
They both took afternoon naps. They both grew portly.
While Dog in his dumb allegiance dozed on the hearth,
sometimes he ran so fiercely in his dreams that he bared his teeth.
Reclusive comfortable Widow scribbled in her journal.
It did not matter how much she woolgathered, how late
into the night she read, it did not matter if she
completed this poem, or another.
Copyright © Maxine Kumin 2010