On your first day among us,
you ate my Barbie doll. I cried
when I saw the pink leg
sticking out of your mouth,
without knowing it would only be
a few years until I buried
that one-legged doll with you.
Born a Saint Bernard you felt
at home among our garden blooms.
I showed you how to smell them,
you taught me to savour their petals.
Three summers we spent
scouring the tall grass
for palatal excitement.
Mint flowers tasted minty,
red roses like strawberries,
lavender like mummy’s soap,
chives like onion soup.
Dandelion buds so sweet,
their corolla so bitter,
like love-me, love-me-nots.
The spring of your fading,
every morning I offered you
my fingers dipped in honey.
Too sick for dog food, yet never tired
of the garden’s bounty, you had
a daily fancy for white clover heads.
On your last day you found
a four-leaf clover among poppies.
I rewarded you with forget-me-nots,
which you chewed dutifully,
while watching the clover
wither away in my child’s hand,
and sniffing the ephemeral
bitter-sweet scent of pleasure.
(Sabine Huynh, published in Dogs Singing – anthology)