The 22nd

The current term of my creative writing programme is all about poetry. Lots of reading, critiquing, analysing, and, of course, writing. We’re being asked to write about things that move us deeply. And to share work from published writers (who I think of as ‘real‘ poets) that inspire us.

The first poem I wrote this term is about saying goodbye to Sofie. She comes to mind so clearly on the 22nd of each month: the date of her death (in February) as well as the date of her birth (in December).

Every 22nd is a marker. A milestone. A reason to remember her—although she’s usually not far from my thoughts.

That first poem of the term is still in progress (revisions are never-ending!), but that doesn’t mean that my poetry-reading has been dog-less. A course-mate shared the poem below as an example of emotion in poetry—it certainly stirred me.

I’m sharing it in honour of my own pup who passed away eight months ago yesterday. Maybe it will stir you, too.

‘The Dogs’ by Helen Mort

Some mornings, waking up between the sandy whippet
and the black, their breathing slow as mine,
their eyes more sorrowful, I remind myself I’m not a dog.
It’s not acceptable to taste the grass or roll in moss until
I’m musked with it. There are deer in the woods I’ll never see.
My thirst discriminates. It does not have me bend
my grateful head to puddles, gutters, hollows
in the rock. I don’t track rabbits in my sleep.
I’ll not know love like theirs, observed in mute proximity
and if I sometimes sit bolt upright after dark, sensing
a movement in the yard, it’s only that I’ve learned
a little of their vigilance. I’m not like them:
one night I’ll set off past the meadow, down
behind the beck, beyond the blunt profile of Silver Howe
and nobody will call me back.

Re-published from The Poetry Archive.

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