Published on Academy of American Poets (

We have no choice in the bodies that hold us

Thing of dirt and water and oxygen marked by thinking
and reacting and a couch
one may or may not be permitted
to sleep on. He may not permit me
to touch him or to take the bone
from his mouth, but he does, and that’s a choice
based on many factors, not the least of which
is his own desire to let me
do these things. How I could ever
think or feel myself more
deserving of a single thing than
this being, whom I call by a name the same way
my parents chose a name for me. The same way my genes
went expressing themselves to make my face exactly
my face. This isn’t special. Or this is special. But it’s one
answer, the same, for us both.


Copyright © 2016 by Holly Amos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 2, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem shortly after adopting a second dog, Husker. Husker was already an adult, already had lived with a family who inexplicably took him and his brother (who was euthanized for space issues, as far as I know) to Chicago Animal Care and Control. One night I was sitting on the couch with Husker who had fallen asleep, and I was struck by the deep unbearableness that his life had been so thoroughly dictated by someone other than himself.”
—Holly Amos


Holly Amos

Holly Amos is the author of Continual guidance of air (H_NGM_N Books, 2016). 

Date Published: 2016-08-02

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