Poetry by Carolyn Martin
– for Penelope Scambly Schott
in honor of Lily, the White Dog
By the time I get to page 79
where your book’s title first appears –
tucked between buckets and mops
and a bathtub drain; between young belief
death isn’t real and the world can be saved –
coyotes are sniffing sadness.
They know it’s true: there is no grief
more reliable than for a white dog who used
up her world and left dinner plates
unrinsed in a kitchen sink.
Maybe she’s gone to find a lost uncle
to confirm his smell. Perhaps to track the doe
she chased over the barbed wire fence.
(Her heart wants forgiveness.)
She might be frisking in the forest
where trees caper ecstatically
or beside Frost’s horse stopping on a snow-soft night.
She might be listening to Emily think through
why she could not stop for death. Why not?
The mind wants to imagine these things.
How life wants to go on living, you write
on page 82, so there’s no consolation yet.
Some day birds will mute their screams
and you’ll tell Lily stories until they bail out
your tears. You won’t fail to include
she honored poet friends by not barking
while they read and claimed a title in her name.
You’ll be sure to add how she snubbed
your husband’s offer for a walk
whenever you were home
and how she knew we’re passengers
on a frisky planet we don’t own.
Dogs are wise that way.
In case you’re curious,
by the time I closed your book,
the hummingbird had not arrived.
The Crocosmia and I will wait and imagine
a white dog prancing across the yard.
From Associate Professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK including Stirring, CALYX, Persimmon Tree, How Higher Education Feels, and Antiphon. Her third collection, Thin Places, was released by Kelsay Books in Summer 2017.