Packing the Car for Our Western Camping Trip

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.