Reading Mary Oliver to the dog

mutual gaze > animals > Reading Mary Oliver to the dog

Our friend Rebecca sent over a book she found in the cast-off pile in the St. Albans dump. It is Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver. After dinner, we settle our dog on the couch between us and read her poems. One begins, “a puppy is a puppy is a puppy.” She looks off to the distant kitchen. Our dog has not heard of Gertrude Stein, I can tell.

We try another poem. Here’s how it goes:


Our new dog, named for the beloved poet,

ate a book which unfortunately

we had left unguarded.

Fortunately, it was the Bhagavad Gita

of which many copies are available.

Every day now, as Percy grows

into the beauty of his life, we touch

his wild, curly head and say,

“Oh, wisest of little dogs.”

This dog, a little rescue lab not named for a famous poet, put a paw on my chest and said, “When I (unfortunately) ate your new Folio collectable edition of Moby-Dick, you were not so generous.”