I Gave the Dog Away


Despite my promises—I loaded up a stranger’s car
with bed and bowls and toys, tossed in the Christmas
stocking with his name embroidered on the cuff.

Baby pictures, mini-poodle pedigree, every
trace of what he’d been went with him.
That night, I high-fived my friends at a party.

Now, like her, he was truly gone. No calls from
my mother demanding that I come back home
for a cork stuck in a wine bottle.

No voice grown small at the end of the receiver:
I’m afraid, she once told me.
Of course you are, I said, we’re all afraid.

Even the dog, who was fearful of the dark
and rain and sometimes, lawn statuary—
and most of all, I knew, of being left behind.

I gave the dog away. I was too tired, too busy,
wanted to travel. No time to second-guess—
Why shouldn’t I live unfettered, free for once?

I promised her three things: You will not be in pain;
you will not be alone; and yes, I’ll take the dog.
At least I kept the two.

A call came the next day. He’d been dumped
at a shelter. Could I come pick him up?
There he sat—no leash, no bed, no photos.

No past of any kind. Just a look in his eye
beneath his matted topknot and the slight
smell of urine. I knew then

that I’d go home, uncork a bottle,
and keep the dog. Okay, okay—clean slate,
I said, opening the door, patting the passenger seat.

About the Author
Meredith Davies Hadaway has three published collections of poetry—including At the Narrows, winner of the 2015 Delmarva Book Prize for Creative Writing. Her work has also appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harpur Palate, New Ohio Review, Rhino, Salamander, Southern Poetry Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, among other journals. Hadaway has received fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and from the Maryland State Arts Council and six Pushcart nominations.