An idea students commonly have is that poems have a specific meaning, that they are supposed to get something from reading it. When they don't connect to a poem, they "don't get it" as if there is a correct solution to the riddle. Although this poem is one with concrete imagery in every line, it's often not gotten by my students. This isn't a poem I get, rather it's a poem I feel.


D. Nurske

We gave our dogs a button to sniff,
or a tissue, and they bounded off
confident in their training,
in the power of their senses
to recreate the body,

but after eighteen hours in rubble
where even steel was pulverized
they curled on themselves
and stared up at us
and in their soft huge eyes
we saw mirrored the longing for death:

then we had to beg a stranger
to be a victim and crouch
behind a girder, and let the dogs
discover him and tug him
proudly, with suppressed yaps,
back to Command and the rows
of empty triage tables.

But who will hide from us?
Who will keep digging for us
here in the cloud of ashes?

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