The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she
would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Billy Collins's poem Dharma

3 Comments

  1. phi lynch says:

    for John rasor: the poem is called The Revenant (by Billy Collins)

  2. john rasor says:

    Billy Collins recently read a poem about a dog’s thoughts after the dog died. Collins read it on a recent Praire Home Companion. I’ve search a number of pages and can’t find it. It was more than funny.

  3. patrick stein says:

    Garrison Keillor read this one morning on the alamanac. My favorite since.

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