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Grendel

Mark, I am a scientist, and I write and publish, but it is all scientific writing. I had never written a poem. When my dog Grendel (named for the character in Beowulf) died, I was heartbroken, and the next day something led me to sit at the computer and write the following as a way to express my grief. I’ve never shared it with anyone other than my wife, but hearing your recent interviews encouraged me to share it here. I’ve never tried writing a poem again, and likely never will.

In Honor of a Dog Called Grendel Upon the Occasion of Her Death
October 7, 1999

When I alone, despondent, ponder the fate
Of those departed creatures whose lives I was
Privileged to share, I can but hope
That their lives were equally enriched.

I know that dogs can love.

My companion of 19 years yesterday I laid to rest.
In a hole beneath a towering pine swept by the breeze,
She returned to the Earth from which she came.
A cairn of rocks fixes her remains in place.

I know she is now at peace.

We shared walks in the desert, camped in Mexico
And found whale skulls on the beach.
She walked always by my side, contented.

That dog was my friend.

One year ago, she lost her freedom
To wander wherever she would.
Her will was not bent and her spirit stayed sharp.
Her eyes still held love for us, and for food.

I know that dogs can smile.

But then the shine was gone;
She endured each day with an infinite sadness.
She knew she was ready to leave,
Waiting only for us to accept the inevitable.

I know that dogs understand.

We talked often those last few months.
I thought I was telling her it was ok to leave;
But all the while she was telling me it was time to go.

She taught me how to say goodbye.

I held her in my arms when the time came,
As she drifted off to sleep, never to awake.
Her peaceful face told me we had done the right thing.

I know that dog was loved.

When I alone, despondent, ponder the fate
Of those departed creatures whose lives I was
Privileged to share, I can but hope
That their lives were equally enriched.

I am honored to have known her.

Richard from AZ