70: Dharma by Billy Collins


The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she
would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

 

The author’s work can be found in the volume, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems.

Think about how the poem made you feel. Do you ever find yourself envious of the simple lives our pets are able to lead? And are you ever similarly snapped out of it when you consider the last line of the poem, and the enviable power dynamic you currently inhabit?

May you live out another beautiful poem in the collection of your life today, and we’ll see you again tomorrow.

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