Fallen (Low November Sun)

Oak Autumn Leaf - Autumn Colours Series

Oak Autumn Leaf – Autumn Colours Series (Photo credit: ishyam79)

The low November sun cast shards of gold,
old and burnished, around the Narcissistic oak,
as the winds pushed that brawny
exhibitionist body into clattering sway,
not its standing ovation of summer-leaf
self-applause. Yesterday, the
Golden leaf closest to me fell.
She was the one toward whom I would reach,
against whom I would rest, I would rub
for mutual security and solace
whether the winds hummed or thrashed.
She was the one who pawed me toward the sun,
as my hand never left her side until
she felt the nudge and fell away.

I’m alone now, waving for the wind
to rip me away from this empty place
at the tip of this twig,
attached to this branch,
shouldered to this oak,
this raggedy bark metaphor for
life as some grand repeating circle
of birth and death. But for us,
the leaves, the joes and mollies,
it is not a circle. It’s not
some spinning wheel. It is
a finite line from root to shoot.
There is birth. There is death.
And whatever happens along the
in-between is nothing more than
a matter of opinion.


On Saturday, November 16, our Mollie got old and sick all at once and we had to let her go. I’m inconsolable. Still hurting a week after my shoulder surgery, but this is the real pain in my life. She was the anchor to my existence. My first thing in the morning, my last thing at night and more often than not my source of inspiration just to be and guide to express myself. Maybe she was the muse I never thought I’d have or need. But she was my best friend and, in the way of a man who only recently made the acquaintance of his feelings, the love of my life.

Recently, American sportswriter Peter King had to put down his beloved golden retriever Bailey. He wrote a column about it from which I managed to pinch this thought through my tears. King wrote: “The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.”

After almost thirteen years living with, being exasperated by, laughing at, caring for and loving (and being loved by) Mollie, I can barely describe how empty my life now feels.

Maybe this poem is a poor start.

32 thoughts on “Fallen (Low November Sun)

  1. I have no words to convey the sorrow of losing a companion…
    I only know I still feel my Sadie still…and I miss her..
    my thoughts whisper on those trees tonight that you
    may find a peace-filled moment to breathe….
    Take care…you Matter…
    I enjoyed your poem…

    • sorry…got cut off early (that’s always happening to me as I type carelessly, I think)…really have no more words…just wanted to express my condolences. On top of your shoulder surgery, I’m sure things feel very bleak…I hope it helps somewhat to know people are thinking about you, reading your work, caring…take care…keep writing.

  2. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear furry friend. She will live in your heart, memories and writing for years to come. Your poem is a perfect, fitting tribute to your friend of the heart.

  3. My dear friend, I cry with you on this loss. The hardest decision we ever make is when to let go. And yet make it we must, out of the love we feel for this creature, this friend, who so loved and so depended upon us. God bless, my friend.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Joe, here & on FB. When we put our Taffy down, I held her as the Vet injected her eternal sleep, petting her into the next world; brings tears yet after 8 years; like the death of a child, Mollie was a family member, & the pain that engulfs you is righteous–loss & the emotions connected to it are the stuff of lesson; the stuff of poetry–& you demonstrate that admirably.

  5. Joe, sending love and comfort your way. I know there are no words anyone can say to ease a broken heart. So I would just like to tell you I understand and pray that your grief will soon subside. My heart goes out to you.

    As for the poem, you couldn’t have expressed it any better. This was so very touching.

    All my love,

  6. oh i’m so sorry for your loss joe… i know how hard it is to lose a dog and what great and faithful friends they are… i had one as a teenager.. always think about getting one again… a golden retriever would be the dog of my choice…

  7. I’m very sorry for your loss. I’ve always been a doggie person, and I’ve been through this loss a few times. It never gets easier, but it does get easier to love a new friend (dog).

  8. Joe, I understand your poem completely. I have have lost a few dogs, and the grief that I has felt at their loss has been the same kind of grief I have felt with human loss. Those who have not loved dogs really don’t understand, I don’t think. My condolences to you on the death of your good friend.

  9. I think this poem is so much more than that. You captured beautifully what you are feeling, reeling from this loss. The comparison to autumn leaves is spot on. And I am so sorry for your loss, I have only truly loved one dog in my life (though I have been friends with many more) and I still think of him almost daily, though its been over six years. My heart goes out to you.

  10. sorry for your loss… will give my golden an extra hug… I started a book once… never finished “How to Live Without a Dog”… ended up getting my golden and found no reason to write, but one day will be in the same place… so much love to give

  11. I do understand. I watched my daughter learn this life “lesson” as well – but her dog died way to early of liver failure. I’ve had dogs all my life – We truly witness the beginning and the end AND reap all that is in between. As much as it hurts, how empty, indeed without such (underserved) devotion…

    Beautiful poem and the single golden leaf is a perfect image for this… (and what a sweet profile photo)

  12. Wow..what a moving poem..and moving expression of honesty of feelings you give here..I can so relate as I lost my emotions completely with severe pain and other auto-immune system issues..and the only tear I could feel that was as close to happiness I could imagine of feeling anything was a tear that came from a new feral cat that called our home..home…

    As soon as he could feel comfortable there..we had to make the decision to put him down..from a severe injury from a cat fight..where he tested positive for feline AIDs..and he could not live with our cat that had feline leukemia..as his immune system was already compromised…

    As hard as that decision was..was indeed a gift from the cat’s suffering as it was the only tear I experienced in five years..and in that tear..love blossomed into the human being I am now again..who can freely love strangers ..who before could not feel the love those who truly loved me..in my life…

    So even with love from others..there can be a chasm of feeling that love..where all one feels are the husk of words..without any kernel of heart..to share..

    So yes… I agree with your sentiment..that it is the love we have the opportunity to share that is the important love..and the love we lose can at times..make the opportunity for greater love.. even possible…

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