Choosing A Dog


William Stafford from The Way It Is, Graywolf  Press (1998):


“It’s love,” they say. You touch

the right one and a whole half of the universe

wakes up, a new half.


Some people never find

that half, or they neglect it or trade it

for money or success and it dies.


The faces of big dogs tell, over the years,

that size is a burden: you enjoy it for a while

but then maintenance gets to you.


When I get old I think I’ll keep, not a little

dog, but a serious dog,

for the casual, drop-in criminal—


My kind of dog, unimpressed by

dress or manner, just knowing

what’s really there by the smell.


Your good dogs, some things that

they hear they don’t really want you to know—

it’s too grim or ethereal.


And sometimes when they look in the fire

they see time going on and someone alone

but they don’t say anything. 


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