An Old Dog Teaches My Dog to Swim by Elizabeth Johnston

For Neptune and Nina, friends

At the pond the old lab dives in,
chasing his splashes,
while my pup bounds like a colt,
creeps close to water’s edge,
jumps back, whines,
wavers between solid ground
and the instinct that will prevail:
to join her friend in play,
root fishes from the mud,
release sleek body, webbed toes, rudder-like tail.

I suppose this is how love of anything goes:
eventually we give up the shore.
Why lament the inevitable,
            grieve the grey in an old dog’s coat,
            the hip that gives out,
            clouds gathering in his eyes?
In the end, we are as reckless with love as animals,
pretending, perhaps, to see only what they do:
            pond, after pond, after wonderful pond.


Elizabeth_JohnstonElizabeth Johnston’s poetry has appeared in a variety of print and online journals and edited collections, most recently New Verse News (April 2014) and Mom Egg Review (April 2014). New poems written by Elizabeth will be featured in forthcoming issues of NonBinary Review, The Luminary, and Rose Red Review, as well as in the print anthology, Veils, Halos, and Shackles: An Anthology of International Poetry (Eds. Charles Fishman and Smita Sahay). She is a founding member of the Rochester-based writer’s group, Straw Mat, whose co-authored play FourPlay is currently in production at the 2014 Rochester Fringe Festival. She teaches writing at Monroe Community College and lives in Rochester, NY, with her partner, Brian, two daughters, Ava and Christina, and a menagerie of animals.

 

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