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  4. Packing the Car for Our Western Camping Trip by Jane Varley
Packing the Car for Our Western Camping Trip

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What we will remember—we tried to take the dog,
packed around him, making a cozy spot
at the back of the Subaru, blocking out the sun,
resisting the obvious—
he was too old, he would not make it.
And when he died in Minnesota,
we smelled and smelled his paws,
arthritic and untouchable these last many years,
took those marvelous paws up into our faces.
They smelled of dark clay
and sweet flower bloom decay.

Poem copyright ©2009 by Jane Varley, whose most recent book is a memoir, Flood Stage and Rising, University of Nebraska Press, 2005. Poem reprinted from Poems & Plays, No. 16, 2009, by permission of Jane Varley and the publisher.
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Packing the Car for Our Western Camping Trip

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  • Born in Dubuque, Iowa, poet and nonfiction writer Jane Varley earned a BA and an MA at the University of Idaho and a PhD at the University of North Dakota. Often steeped in a midwestern landscape, Varley’s poems linger at intersections, marking the ways new life arises from loss.

    Varley’s poetry has been reprinted in the New York Times and in former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” syndicated newspaper column. She is the author of the memoir recounting the 1997 Nebraska flood, Flood Stage and Rising (2005). The recipient of an individual artist grant from the Ohio Arts Council, Varley lives in Ohio, where she coordinates the creative writing program at Muskingum College.

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