Milk and Silence

~ for Bingo ~

what do you see, dear little Bingo
through eyes full of milk?
once dark and shiny
now white and hazy
eyes that into space
eyes that obscure your soul
eyes that search the carpet in vain
for undropped biscuits?

what do you hear with
ears full of silence?
once perky and alert
now useless and deaf
ears that function no more
ears that can’t hear my whistles
ears that no longer stand up
as you tilt your head to one side?

how does it feel
to stop and look for me
in all directions when
I’m standing nearby?
or bump into furniture
or stumble off the curb
or flinch at sidewalk shadows?

how does it feel
now that birdsong,
barking dogs, laughter,
my goofy love language
and my adoring voice
have all fallen silent?

your glass-shattering bark
no longer shocks me
when there’s a knock on the door
and though my words
no longer wag your tail,
my smile still does –
but for how much longer?

what’s it like, sliding inexorably
towards sensory oblivion –
are you frightened?
are you angry?
are you sad?

there’s still smell and taste!
so now it’s time to treat you to
a few more scraps from the table
and it’s time to take you on
longer, slower walks
during your twilight years, so you can
sniff the plants and flowers
smell other dogs and their markings,
and work that little nose
to your heart’s delight

and there’s still touch!
so now it’s time to hold you
any time, for any reason
during the day or night
and it’s time to give you
more belly rubs, head massages,
and nocturnal cuddles
so you will continue to know
the depth of my affection

oh dear little Bingo,
your tail still whips and waps
you still get super excited
when I get home after 5 minutes
you’ve shown me that
no matter what happens
joy will never abandon us
and for that, I will always love you

– Paul Raworth Bennett


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