Poetry: How they teach you about living

Close-up colour photo of a black cat with green eyes and white whiskers

This is for anyone who has ever lost a four-legged family member.  Animal companions occupy a unique space in our hearts and our lives, and losing them brings a unique pain. Don’t ever let anyone tell you “It was just an animal”. There is no such thing as just an animal.

how they teach you about living

you start to treasure scratches
on furniture that you will never
polish away and small pink scars
on your hands that you wish you
could stop from fading.

the place where a bowl of water
used to sit and the hem of a
too-long curtain that was once
a bed become small altars to fill
the new empty spaces in your life.

you count your remaining years
with lifetimes of smaller animals
as units of measurement and your
comparative longevity feels less
straightforward than it used to.

worse things have happened and
are happening and will happen but
there’s a special kind of grief
reserved for the loss of something
so gentle and unconditional.

you decide that you will be fine
tomorrow but you can’t go to bed
yet because it’s too quiet and you
can still feel the heartbeat that
slowed beneath your hand.

4 thoughts on “Poetry: How they teach you about living

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