| Poetry month goes to the dogs
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26 Apr Poetry month goes to the dogs

Nellie the dog

April brings two momentous* occasions: Poetry Month and the dog’s birthday. Nellie is 365 days old, and Poetry Month is 4,380 days old (give or take a few days – there are leap years in there somewhere.)

To celebrate both events, I think Billy Collins’ poem Dharma will do nicely:


The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her dog house
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Ghandi with his staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

– Billy Collins, from Sailing Alone Around the Room

*Yes, I have become one of *those people* who celebrates their dog’s birthday. But no, I don’t really think it’s a momentous occasion.

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