This Is How It Is With Love

July 31, 2013


Poor Richard’s Almanac said, “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas,” but that hasn’t kept some of us from sleeping with our dogs. Here’s a poem about the pleasure of that, by Joyce Sidman, who lives and sleeps in Minnesota. Her book, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, won a 2011 Newbery Honor Award. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]

Dog in Bed

Nose tucked under tail,
you are a warm, furred planet
centered in my bed.
All night I orbit, tangle-limbed,
in the slim space
allotted to me.

If I accidentally
bump you from sleep,
you shift, groan,
drape your chin on my hip.

O, that languid, movie-star drape!
I can never resist it.
Digging my fingers into your fur,
kneading,
      I wonder:
How do you dream?
What do you adore?
Why should your black silk ears
feel like happiness?

This is how it is with love.
Once invited,
it steps in gently,
circles twice,
and takes up as much space
as you will give it.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2003 by Joyce Sidman, whose most recent book of poems is Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011. Poem reprinted from The World According to Dog, Houghton Mifflin, 2003, by permission of Joyce Sidman and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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4 comments

  1. Loved this--so very true! I have my own little guy with silky black ears, and he's quite the bed-hog. (LOL!)--no fleas yet though. :-)

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  2. :)--so far, no fleas here either! Dogs can make great bed partners, but yes, they do tend to hog the bed!

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  3. Sweet...definitely someone with a furry companion! My favorite part is the last verse...once invited, it steps in gently...and take up as much space as you will give it—so, so true!

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  4. She might have been in our house--my dog even has "black silk ears [that] feel like happiness". That last verse is my favorite, too.

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