Dog Days Eclipse


Milly portrait

Dog Days Eclipse. (for Milly 2001-2014)

Our guardian angel dog is dead,
Bequeathed for a long sonnet’s span…
Her absence now insinuates through
every raku cracked routine.

She opened the day, I knew you’d come
and ‘here you are, it’s good again…’
Chin settled the close; begone, begone
My sentinel ears are set. Now sleep.

The book of family was bound
by constant reading, all out loud:
Absence tracked, whim on the wind
awaited patient at the gate.

Milly intent detail

Each supper semi-sanctified
The pre-wash cycle cleaned the plate.
Leavings now no pleasures gift
to share what self-control delayed.

Her sponge absorbed all bitterness
(the vinegar of petty strife)
The wince (before the wound) perceived,
quick licked in instant empathy.


Milly observing
Her presence stroked all injury
of tension or a sharp remark.
Rebuke was an averted eye:
Our grief her vigil misery.



The wild is tamed by its consent
to shaman out what we forget…
They bide with us to educate
the gift of giving, in full spate.

She centred us long, yet sudden gone
The call of the wild cried, cried her home…
Three days she keened I come, I come
My heart is strong, beats on, beats on
but hear, I hear, I speak your tongue…
Just give me a span, while I prepare
my absence from this loving lair.
She returns to breathe the spreading tree
of song in wolfish symphony.

That crouching streak…whose mother’s sheep
on Brecon’s rounded shoulders, bleak…Milly grave
lies curled in clay…
The sycamore its leaves release
to trickle on a grave fresh filled
against the wall of guarded ground.



Author: philipparees

A writer ( mostly narrative poetry) of fiction and non-fiction. Self publisher of fiction and Involution-An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God (Runner-up Book of the Year (2013), One time builder ( Arts centre) Mother of four daughters: Companion of old man and old dog: One time gardener, lecturer, wannabe cellist, mostly enquirer of 'what's it all about', blogger and things as yet undiscovered.

14 thoughts on “Dog Days Eclipse”

  1. … Her sponge absorbed all bitterness … it’s what animals attached to us do – like guardian angels. So sorry you lost Milly. Then again, we can never really loose anything that is lodged in our hearts,


  2. That’s true. It is in the interstices of routines her absence is felt, all the small gestures in which she sat central, but never intrusive. She drew people to her like a magnet, and sat on a cricket boundary with her paws against the rope, but knew never to cross it. That sums her up really. She watched us humans indulgently as though she knew the rules! And forgave them!


  3. Dear Philippa,

    You wrote, “Her absence now insinuates through/ every raku cracked routine./ She opened the day, I knew you’d come/ and ‘here you are, it’s good again…’ These lines really resonated for me and captured the essence of the gift that our dogs offer us. With smartphones and tweeted gossip and the drumbeat of fear and crisis in the daily news, so many things conspire to remove us from the actual day to day experience of our lives. Not only do dogs offer us unconditional loyalty and love, making us feel that all is right with the world again, they also act as healers and as guides. They help to keep us grounded, returning us to an awareness of our heartbeats, of our connection to the Earth, of the insubstantial nature of so much of our anxiety, and to the central importance of those almost invisible small moments throughout the day, which, without a nudge from them, we might not otherwise pause to notice. Even in our busyness, we most probably do not take our dogs for granted, yet it is still a shock to discover how big a hole they leave when they are gone.

    Best wishes,



    1. Brian, you put it perfectly. The hole left is not yet softened. My husband dreads mowing the lawn, because without her it is a hollow chore. Before it was a shared pleasure, that got two arthritic people forgetting their impediments. But the wolfish keening for three days was haunting, because she was pretty well unconscious. In some deep way it comforted.


  4. How lovely. I especially like ‘They bide with us to educate/the gift of giving’ and ‘She centred us long’ and ‘that crouching streak . . . lies curled in clay.’ So evocative! I completely relate. Thanks for sharing the link with me. Just beautiful.


      1. I hear you. The loss of a beloved pet/family member is tough. When the time comes for a new one you’ll know… no point trying to force it. And the ‘right’ time can surprise you. Generally nothing to do with your thinking it through 🙂


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