Mercies, a sonnet by Don Paterson

She might have had months left of her dog-years,
but to be who? She’d grown light as a nest
and spent the whole day under her long ears
listening to the bad radio in her breast.
On the steel bench, knowing what was taking shape
she tried and tried to stand, as if to sign
that she was still of use, and should escape
our selection. So I turned her face to mine,
and seeing only love there-which, for all
the wolf in her, she knew as well as we did-
she lay back down and let the needle enter.
And love was surely what her eyes conceded
as her stare grew hard, and one bright aerial
quit making its report back to the centre.

Don Paterson is Professor of Poetry at University of St. Andrews.

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