Rudy Dog and me
Blood in Rudy’s diarrhea. Again.
Standing, he rocks. Tail glued to anus.
Fifteen years threaten to topple him.
I stroke his back, trace each spiny ridge.
My hand nestles his rib cage,
supports legs that crumble from caress.
I lift him into my arms, palm cups his bottom.
He jerks his head away. My chin, a hazard?
His nose searches. He nuzzles my beard.
Rudy and me, we’re mates crawling the same arc.
After my chemo, he curls next to my chest,
a sentry for a decade. We share his purple blanket.
Aging, disease disrupt the fulcrum.
Must help him up, down from the couch.
Cuddle him when confusion mars his face.
We sense our debility, the erosion of awareness.
Gastric attacks leave him more brittle.
Infusions wither me irreversibly.
I wonder, should we pose beneath the purple blanket?
Me, holding his rear paws? He, snout balanced
on my shoulder? Let sleep bless our arrival.
When not writing about rock ’n roll or youthful transgressions, Richard Fox focuses on cancer from the patient’s point of view drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. He is the author of four poetry collections and the winner of the 2017 Frank O’Hara Prize. - smallpoetatlarge.com