In the end there was 
    a certain grace

splayed on the table

our beloved (pup)

five sedated on
   a manual respirator


overdose in wait
  human hair

not fur its smell
   and luster

in spite of a final
   breath-less episode

just minutes before
   we arrived for our

nightly visit the ex and I
   he from across country

in case of the worst
  sweet pup

earlier in the day
   recognizing his hide

and seek whistle
   paw shake of recognition

cone headed oxygen
  tubes stapled to her nose

the ex fearing our last
   link too expiring

yes, a certain grace
   to release this spirit

from the metal
   vet emergency room cages

to sniff her hair
   in the last shallow

horror of breath 
   a stopped baby-like

heart all muscle
   and miles of hiking

reduced to toneless
  aspiration pneumonia

complication of—
  the ominous seriousness
released spirit etherized
   in the lingering smell

of the keepsake collar
   and blanket on the bed

at my feet where
  nightly she tried

to creep up
   pawing me still

Copyright @ 2014 by Peter Covino. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 31, 2014.