Thursday, May 30, 2019


We dropped our troubles into the lap of the storyteller, and they turned into someone else's.
~Naomi Shihab Nye

Happy Naomi Shihab Nye week! I wrote a poem inspired by The Art of Disappearing, but it needed fixing and I wasn't sure how to fix it. So I tried again, this time inspired by Shoulders. My poem also has a road in it, although they aren't trying to cross:

Dog Walking
by Tabatha Yeatts

The man and dog amble
along a route they've traveled before,
the drooping black leash
only one of many links between them,

and as they turn a corner where
they will head gently uphill,
the dog decides for the first time
to lie down on that spot,

long furry body across the
sidewalk like it was a bed.
The cars at the intersection
continue to stop and go,

but the dog only stops.
The man, still holding
the utterly idle leash,
looks down at the large hairy beast,

and looks up again, scanning
his fellow humans as they walk past
as if seeking someone to help him
with this surprisingly difficult family member

but no one can,
it's just him and his lying-down dog
who has decided that
there will be no more steps

without a break
and here is as good a place
as any other.
The man shrugs and crouches

to ruffle the dog's head
accepting that his plan
has suddenly changed,
his routine remade, and

love is the only constant here.


A Year of Reading has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Mary Lee!


Ruth said...

"Love is the only constant here." Yes.

Linda Mitchell said...

Ahhhhhh, Tabatha. That brilliant last line. I leave for school today with this poem in my heart. Thank you for the many links between poets that you have made. Thank you for the beautiful NSN celebration. I'm so enjoying it.

Linda B said...

Every week I love Poetry Friday, sorry I had to miss last week, but this celebration you have brought about is the best, Tabatha. Thank you! I've loved Nye's poetry for a long time, now discovering more and more. I do remember "Shoulders", wishing everyone could take a leap into it and know its lesson. Now you've written another one, underlining the only thing to take in. Beautiful!

Mary Lee said...

I'll add my thanks for this Naomi Shihab Nye themed Poetry Friday. What a joy it is to go around the roundup discovering and rediscovering favorites. She has inspired us well.

And "Shoulders." I had forgotten about this one. It is so full of love, as is yours. "the drooping black leash/only one of many links between them" and "The man shrugs and crouches/to ruffle the dog's head" are examples of this. Sigh. Old dogs (or stubborn dogs). You just have to hunker down with them.

Jone said...

Best Poetry Friday ever! I love all the NSN poetry.

Rebecca Herzog said...

I love your poem, Tabatha. It made me think of walks with my toddler where he will just plop down and decide we have gone far enough. And then it made me smile to see that Shoulders was about a dad and his son. :)

Kimberly Hutmacher said...

Love this poem. My husband and I adopted a dog from the shelter several months after we were first married. She lived a long life full of energy and vigor. When she got sick, she still wanted to take her walks, but she would often just decide at a certain point, that she wasn't taking another step. She would plop down wherever we were. We would often have to carry our very large dog home- sometimes several miles, but those walks brought her joy, and she brought us joy until the very end.

Cheriee Weichel said...

Oh, You've told such a story here and that last line is a doozer!

Michelle Kogan said...

Shifting, pausing, and love–thanks for this gorgeous poem Tabatha. I was familiar with "The Art of Disappearing" but not "Shoulders." I'm glad your poem brought you to "Shoulders" thanks for sharing both of them. And thanks also for suggesting a Poetry Friday Celebration of Naomi Shihab Nye!

Margaret Simon said...

I sent Shoulders to my son-in-law when my grandson was born. That is the kind of love I'm sure he feels for his son. I also love your walking the dog version. I wasn't sure how it was going to end. You drew me in to the story, and then I was just glad to sit with them and pet the tired dog. Acceptance. Love. Thanks.

Tabatha said...

Thanks for your comments, all! I was one of the cars stopped at the intersection, watching this happen, and it seemed like a good subject for a poem because it was such a quiet moment, but also a turning point. No one could help them, because no one could stop the dog from getting older. What have you got left when life up-ends your routines and plans? What you always have left...Love. I haven't been writing much lately because life has up-ended my plans, but I had to for NSN!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

You've done it again, T. You've captured my heart with one of your poems. It's such a beautiful reflection of Naomi's "Shoulders" but with your own twist. Just as it should be. I also wanted to say that while you never need to go far to bump into a great NSN quote, you've chosen a really wonderful one for the top of your post. Thank you for all you do to tend so many different gardens in your life.

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, Tabatha! Beautiful. Sigh. Thank you.