Jul/Aug 2013 Poetry

Five Stages of Grief

by Bob Bradshaw

Digital artwork by Adam Ferriss

Digital artwork by Adam Ferriss

Five Stages of Grief

After my neighbor died
his son showed up. He asked us
if we wanted his father's dog.
He handed my daughter Katie the leash
like a teacher handing back
a failed assignment.

Mack lay down at her feet,
a pile of fur.

Every day Katie and I walk
the beagle in the park.
Mack doesn't show interest
in the other dogs.
He just lies in the grass.

There are five stages of grief,
the veterinarian
told us. Which stage
is Mack in? Is he
in denial
that his owner,
and best friend,
isn't coming

"He's not angry," my daughter says.
"He never barks.
I think Mack's sad, alone,
like a small child
at the bottom
of an abandoned

I rub her back.
She strokes his fur.
The other dogs chase
each other, like a team of sled dogs
let loose for some recess

but Mack wears the same expression
every day, that
of someone resigned to being lost
in a blizzard.
"I wonder when he'll get
to the fifth stage,"
Katie says.

I don't know, I answer.
Maybe I should promise her
"Any day now..." but
I love her too much
to lie.


Previous Piece Next Piece