A dog poem, and obstinate chives bread

My dog is dying.

Well, it’s not my dog actually, it’s one of the dogs in my book. But he’s mine, in a sense, and I’m taking his death hard.

So hard, in fact, that I can’t bring myself to write the death scene. I’ve written around it, the before and after. But the real-can’t-be-ignored scene? No thank you, just can’t do it. Or at least not tonight, when my partner is off on a hiking trip and I have the house to myself and my own dog is past 13 and has hurt her leg and my cat is sick and my other cat is 17, and when I look around the living room I think: I’m going to lose them all, probably within the next year. And I don’t know if I can bear it.

Please, Beebs, live forever, okay?

So instead of writing poor Willie’s death (lucky dog: He gets to live a few more days. What will he do with this extra time? Shuffle around the yard? Sleep in a patch of sun? Pee on the hallway rug?) I took my own limpy dog for a walk and then went swimming.

After I came home I still couldn’t write the death scene. So I made chives bread. I craved something spicy yet dense, something that would appeal to my tongue while filling my belly.

Once I kneaded the dough (my favorite part), I reread Laura McCullough’s poem “Moment,” about the death of a dog, and I cried, my still damp hair hanging in my face. I cried and hugged my own smelly old dog. Then I kneaded the bread for a second time, stuck it in the oven and changed the cat litter. (Which just goes to show that in the midst of death, there is still life. And shit to clean up.)

Laura McCullough

There’s a moment in every dog’s life
when it surrenders its dogginess

to a greater good, maybe to you
if you’re lucky and lacking the love

of a good dog, and that becomes
the firmament in the earthquake

your life is. Loneliness can’t enter
through that door—make your body

a door: what is overhead bears down
and the shape of nothing becomes

visible like your dog in the corner
who dreams silently, his legs pumping.

This is what you recall when his brave,
blue-black tongue lolls from his mouth,

so long, so thick you are shocked,
and you cradle it in your inadequate

hands to keep it off the cold, tile floor
in the last moments of his dedicated life

weeping like a child with the silly hope
you are the door he’s passing through.

And maybe it was my mood but the bread refused to rise, and while good and warm and grainy, with a nice bite from the chives, it was also heavy, as if mirroring my mood. Bread, I think, can do that, mimic your emotions, force you to see what you’re trying to ignore.

Dear Chives Bread: Why, oh why, didn’t you rise?

I’ll post the recipe later, if I ever get the tweaks out. Bread is  very temperamental, which is why I love it so.

If anyone has a favorite bread recipe or poem, please feel free to share.

7 thoughts on “A dog poem, and obstinate chives bread

    1. Thanks so much, my dear. One of these days, when I finally, finally hand in my novel and my life settles down, we must get together. Until then, enjoy the autumn. The cooler nights make for such cozy writing, no? Take care.


  1. Cinthia ~ Your blog posts seem to always touch my heart & spirit. This one certainly follows suit ~ your beloved Beebs ~ your words are powerful, tender ~ thank you for sharing your experiences in this life’s journey ~


  2. Thank you for your vulnerability and heart, Cinthia. What moves me most is what you share about yourself as a writer – how very real and beloved your characters are to you, two- and four-legged alike. I’m already a fan, but this affirms that you’re a writer/human I’m glad to know.

    One of my writing partners recently finished a memoir about her dog. (http://karineumeyer.com/bark-and-lunge-the-isis-story/) I’ll be sharing this one with her. Thanks again.


    1. Thanks for the shout out, Tele! I’m poetry challenged, but the tongue part rings so painfully true.

      Cinthia, I certainly relate to the struggles of losing dogs fictional and true. I’m glad Tele connected us and look forward to reading your work.


      1. Hi, Kari! Thanks for stopping by. I am totally loving your blog. I swear, I’d love to fill my house with dogs and cats and just live in messy splendor. Until then, I am down to just one of each, sigh, sigh. Cheers and keep in touch.


    2. Thanks, Tele! I’ve discovered Kari, and I love her blog (someone who loves dogs and loves to write–yes, please). I’ve also been enjoying your writing on your blog. Very powerful and lyrical. I can smell salt water as I read. You are working on a book, right? Take care, and happy writing.


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