Tag Archives: Dog years

Eleanor Lerman Author- DOG YEARS

Dog Years

Look, I’m sure you knew how the story was
supposed to go, but didn’t believe it. No one
who comes from the kind of place where we did
is that nice—or stupid. Meat on a plate was
never going to be served in restaurants, but run
to ground in some evil alley that would later be
the scene of all performances, paid and otherwise,
until such time as we wised up, which was always
going to take years and years

And since it’s clear that nothing will be given,
now comes the time to track down what can be
saved. You’ll need a dog and a map of the stars,
neither of which will be found in any place that you
think to look, so think harder. Think like you live
in the underbelly, like no one knows you anymore,
but still, you can’t be stopped

Except, stop here, just for a moment: where there
is summer. Where there is this scene, composed
of fireflies, children, wet bathing suits on the porch
Yes, that house, where you did not live, which
was not yours, though something else was. Is.
Invisible and hungry. Lost, lost, lost, it says,
and bares its teeth

But now it approaches you with an offer, fond
as it is of any woman who rescues a dog (did you
understand that was the clue?) So sit a while,
with your animal, at the edge of the family group
in the hour that is suspended between then and now,
when the lights are coming on, the food is cooking,
the moon rising, and you are permitted to
remember everything

Which you do. And then, when the stars appear,
continue on your way. Headed where?
That would be, wherever you are expected:
down the road, into or out of darkness
Certainly, though the distance may be
measured not in light but dog years,
the clues—as you have seen—are everywhere
All you have to do is follow them: the time
was always meant to be now


ELEANOR LERMAN’s first book of poetry, Armed Love (Wesleyan University Press, 1973), published when she was twenty-one, was nominated for a National Book Award. She has since published four other award-winning collections of poetry: Come the Sweet By and By (University of Massachusetts Press, 1975); The Mystery of Meteors (Sarabande Books, 2001); Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds (Sarabande Books, 2005); The Sensual World Re-Emerges (Sarabande Books, 2010), along with Observers and Other Stories (Artemis Press, 2002), a collection of short stories. She received the 2002 Joy Bale Boone Award for Poetry, the 2006 Milton Dorfman Poetry Prize, and was the recipient of the 2006 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets and The Nation magazine for the year’s most outstanding book of poetry, Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds. In 2007, she received a NEA Fellowship in Poetry and her work is included in the 2008 Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her novel, Janet Planet, was published in 2011, the same year she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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