Death in the Family

They call it stroke.
Two we loved were stunned
By that same blow of cudgel
Or axe to the brow.
Lost on the earth
They left our circle

One spent five months
Falling from our grasp
Mute, her grace, wit,
Beauty erased.
Her green eyes gazed at us
As if asking, as if aware,
As if hers. One night
She slipped away;
Machinery of mercy
Brought her back
To die more slowly.
At long last
She escaped.

Our collie dog
Fared better.
A lesser creature, she
Had to spend only one day
Drifting and reeling,
Her brown eyes
Beseeching. Then she
Was tenderly lifted,
Laid on a table,
Praised, petted
And set free.

– Julie Alger

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Death in the Family