Poem Hunter
'Let's Go For A Ride'
KN (April 26,1942 / Lincoln, Nebraska)

'Let's Go For A Ride'

I get the same response that I’ve always gotten:
a look of excitement and joy,
immediate effort to rise and head for the car.
But rising is now a major project,
and jumping up into the
back seat is not possible.
So I lift him up, moving mechanically,
trying to drive my grief and dread down into my gut.

How many times have I said, “Let’s go for a ride”?
The sunroof was for him so he could stand
on the center console and poke his huge head up
through the roof and survey the passing world
like a tank commander.
I got a kick out of people smiling and pointing
when they saw him.
No smile for him, though.
Piloting this tank is serious business.

But no more tank commander trips, now.
Legs are too wobbly.

He just lazes on the back seat,
enjoying being with me.
I talk to him and get the usual unspoken
“I don’t have any idea what you are talking about,
but I love you anyway” look.

White hair around the face now,
eyes glazed with age.
Even though he can barely see,
he’ll go wherever I go.
That’s been his life purpose.

My hands shake on the wheel
as I contemplate our farewell.

Only a little while back he was an armful of puppyness,
for years a constant companion and playmate,
always striving to do what I wanted him to do.
Snuggling down on my feet under the desk,
he wanted to be close.

So I owe him this last trip,
when he is still a dignified presence
in the backseat.
We’ll park the car, I’ll put the leash on him
and help him down.
And, when he recognizes where we are,
he’ll begin to shake like he always does.
But, like a trooper, he’ll go wherever I go.

I will miss him so.

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Pablo Neruda

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