Charles Rammelkamp

The Lady with the Dog

“…the most complicated and difficult part of their journey was just beginning.”

Single ladies of a certain age –
Cass and Anne and Sandy and Liz,
widows, divorcees, spinsters all –
stroll around our neighborhood,
their pooches on leashes,
as if lifelines in hand,
babytalking to their dogs as they go.

Once Sandy told me she hopes
Rosalind outlives her, though it’s unlikely,
given the lifespan of pets,
and the other day Anne came sobbing
up onto my front porch,
heartbroken that Hannah had just died –
sudden unexpected heart failure.
(In fact, I’d seen them on the street
only the other day, healthy animals both,
Hannah pulling Anne along
as if she were a sled driver, arm outstretched,
nearly yanked from its socket.)
I remembered my cats’ demise
twenty years ago,
how accelerated and inevitable it seemed,
death sped up like the final reel of a film.

But when Cass’s Benny died,
it only took her three weeks
to replace him with Elmo
from the animal rescue shelter,
and now she seems happy again,
tugged along the sidewalk
as if to her destiny,
a plastic poop bag around her wrist.


Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, has just been published by FutureCycle Press.

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