Choosing a Dog

On the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet William Stafford
here is the best poem ever written about dogs:

Choosing a Dog

“It’s love,” they say.  You touch
the right one and a whole half of the
universe
wakes up, a new half.

Some people never find
that half, or they neglect it or trade it
for money or success and it dies.

The faces of big dogs tell, over the
years,
that size is a burden:  you enjoy it for
awhile
but then maintenance gets to you.

When I get old I think I’ll keep, not a little
dog, but a serious dog,
for the casual, drop-in criminal-

My kind of dog, unimpressed by
dress or manner, just knowing
what’s really there by the smell.

Your good dogs, some things that they
hear
they don’t want you to know –
it’s too grim or ethereal.

And sometimes when they look in the
fire
they see time going on and someone
alone,
but they don’t want to say anything.

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