FAREWELL TO SUMMER
No more tripping over you in the kitchen
as you wait for dropped crumbs.
No more hearing your soft breathing by our bedside.
No more will our young lab Pepper nuzzle your ears,
lick salt from your eyes, and jump over you in joy.
No more marveling at the heap of two black labs on one bed.
No more moving aside as you burst in front
on the trail and then slow down to preside
over the pace with all your royal dignity.
No more laughing as you romp to the dog door in early morning
rushing through to wait by your pottery dog bowl
engraved with your name, “Summer.”
No more holding your collar in shallow water
of the Deschutes River to help you swim in circles,
relieving those stiff, 15-year-old legs.
No more marveling at the way you can still struggle
over logs and more logs until your back legs give out.
Always determined and dogged.
No more of your liquid blurred gaze close to mine,
my hand stroking your fur as you lean hard against me,
the love ricocheting between us with every caress.
No more admiring the way you attend to Wes with a single “cluck”!
Alert and ready for all the marathon trail runs you’ve ever covered together
and still do in dreams when your feet kick at night.
No more calling your name, “Summer….Summer…come sweet girl!”
Like the season of days shortening, nights cooling, and birds flocking,
Summer comes to an end. And you have come there too, at last.
Yet seasons come around, don’t they? Fall turns to winter to spring
and back to Summer…will you see us then?
Will we know you in the lengthening days, the returning warblers, the unfurling leaf?
Summer—you embodied all that I love about that season
of bare skin warming in the sun, of mountain trails leading to peaks
of ripe tomatoes on the vine, and sunsets lingering late into the night.
You’ve entered the sunset at last, found your way to race the clouds
Maybe a place of endless dog food and wild trails.
And you’ll wait for us, eager to lead the way…
Our valiant, beloved Summer.
Summer’s beautiful life came to an end on August 19th, 2019
Marina Richie is a nature writer with recent articles appearing in Appalachian Trail Journeys, Birdwatching, and Vision magazines. She blogs for National Wildlife, Center for Humans and Nature, Audubon, and Outdoor Project. Marina lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband Wes and dog Pepper. Her personal blog is marinarichie.com.
* This is the author’s first literary award for poetry.
* This is the author’s first poem to appear in print.