Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Once

white field. And the dog
dashing past me
into the blank,

toward the nothing.
Or:
not running anymore but

this idea of him, still
in his gold
fur, being

what I loved him for
first, so that now
on the blankets piled

in one corner
of the animal hospital
where they’ve brought him out

a final hour, two,
before the needle
with its cold

pronouncements,
he trembles with what
he once was: breath

and muscle puncturing
the snow, sudden
stetting over the tips

of the meadow’s buried
grasses after–what
was it, a rabbit?

Field mouse? Dashing
past me on my skis,
for the first time

faster, as if
he had been hiding this,
his good uses. What

a shock to watch
what you know unfold
deeper into, or out of

itself. It is like
loving an animal:
hopeless, an extravagance

we were meant for:
startled, continually,
by what we’re willing

to feel. The tips
of the grasses high
in the white. And the flat

light, drops of water
on the gold
coat, the red, the needle

moving in, then out,
and now the sound of an animal
rushing past me in the snow.

Credit


From Imaginary Vessels (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Paisley Rekdal. Used with the permission of the poet.

Author


Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal is the author of six volumes of poetry, most recently Nightingale (Copper Canyon Press, 2019). An inaugural Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, Rekdal is the Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day in December 2019. She is the Poet Laureate of Utah and lives in Salt Lake City.

Date Published: 2019-08-20

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/once