When to Say Goodbye

dried

When to Say Goodbye

 If all goes well it will never happen.
The dry grass in the shade whispers

while the vines crunch underfoot,
releasing a bitter odor. A year ago

I led my dog to his death, the third
in five years. How such counting

precedes affection, dwindles ever
so slowly, one star winking out after

another, till only the morning gray
hangs above us, solemn, indefinite.

Voiceless. If I could cock my head
to howl, who would understand? Not

one dog or three, neither mother nor
mentor, not my friend’s sister nor her

father and his nephews, the two boys
belted safely in the back seat. No.

I walk downhill and closer to the creek,
where the vines are still green.

In the shade of a large cedar, a turtle
slips into the water and eases away.

“When to Say Goodbye,” drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, was published by Oxidant | Engine in May 2017, and subsequently nominated for a Best of the Net 2017 award.

28 thoughts on “When to Say Goodbye

  1. Such a fascinating interplay of sound and soundlessness here (in their reality–like the act of howling–as well as onomatopoeiacally). I can see why it was nominated (and should win) a Best of the Net award. Lovely stuff, Bob!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is beautiful Robert, you made me cry again, and I don’t know when or how to say goodbye, however I know it’ll happen when the lizard starts drinking, and stands still to wink and say hello…

    Liked by 1 person

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