Ted Kooser: An American Life in Poetry, July 16, 2017

Ted Kooser: An American Life in Poetry, July 16, 2017

U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-06

There are 3.5 million of you reading this column in print and online, and I appreciate every one of you. I want to take advantage of your attention to pass along the news of the death of my dear old yellow Lab, Howard, at age 15, in the hope that a few of you will join me in wishing him well on his trip to the stars. Here's how it has felt, to me, to lose my good friend.

Death of a Dog

The next morning I felt that our house

had been lifted away from its foundation

during the night, and was now adrift,

though so heavy it drew a foot or more

of whatever was buoying it up, not water

but something cold and thin and clear,

silence riffling its surface as the house

began to turn on a strengthening current,

leaving, taking my wife and me with it,

and though it had never occurred

to me until that moment, for fifteen years

our dog had held down what we had

by pressing his belly to the floors,

his front paws, too, and with him gone

the house had begun to float out onto

emptiness, no solid ground in sight.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem, copyright 2017, reprinted by permission of Kooser. Introduction copyright 2017 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author served as U.S. poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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