Because there is no protocol for spending
what may be your last days
with the aging dog you’ve been petsitting
for the past four years,
you may feel awkward
and even a little self-conscious
staring into those cloudy eyes
while your heart urges your clumsy body
to lie down beside her, nestling your head
into the fatty tumors on her torso.
Once you succumb to this primitive nudge
you will be so glad you did.
Her crippled body will welcome you
while her tail becomes a pendulum of gratitude.
She may lick your face or arm, appreciation
for your plunge into fear of loss.
You will need to tell your mind
to let go of anything
that may dilute this experience.
Just be with her,
letting her know how much she means to you,
how even though taking care of her disrupts
your routine and adds
to an already long list of obligations,
you were always glad to do it and would have
done it even if you weren’t getting paid.
Lay there as long as you need to,
giving and receiving.
Stand up when you’re ready–you’ll know–
and go back to watering plants
while she dozes and twitches,
both of you smiling,