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A Dog Speaks on a Derelict Graveyard and Death – a poem by Terry McDonagh, Irish Poet, Playwright and Writer
Cassie is a very intelligent Border Collie who has shared life with us in Ireland and in Hamburg. She has become the subject matter of a collection of poems I’m writing entitled, Lady Cassie Peregrina. In this poem, she considers death and her final resting place in Killedan graveyard. When I was a child we used to play in Killedan House dog’s graveyard – I used to find it fascinating…it is now, unfortunately, completely overgrown.
When people speak about Killedan House tradition
they often mention the dog’s graveyard as if it
was animate and just under the skin of house rhetoric.
Graveyards are soundless and speechless. As soon as
a wet sod puts the lid on a beast’s life, even the most rabid
are mute – no more barking up the wrong tree.
In quiet moments I see the reptile tongue of death
tidying up the unviable – ruthless as a cold slab of winter
making way for the fresh yelp of first daffodils.
Even in absolute shambles, a dog’s graveyard
would be a rare arthouse classic – an artefact
on a display shelf or sculptures that will outlive me.
I lie here on the doorstep imagining canine spirits
afloat in airstream and slipstream – seeing
them soar and funnel their way to nameless worlds
a dead dog is dead
silent as an alpine cow without a bell
cold as handlebars in frost
colourless as white.
Images of jumbled bones among sprawling roots
in the derelict dog’s graveyard leave me cold
but when my end does come, I’d be proud to
be borne there draped in the colours of my breed.
© Terry McDonagh