By the light of my reading lamp, she regards me,
or regards the shape of me where I sit,
the shadow I am, she being mostly blind.
She’s lying on the couch, and it may be
she is uncertain I am even here, for she was asleep
when I entered the room and took my place
and began to read. And before I picked up
my book, it was I who studied her,
so slight and barely visible was her breathing.
Only the dream twitch of a paw made me know
she was alive, and I began. Then somewhere
in the midst of Swann’s Way, I became aware
of her again. It seemed I felt her looking at me,
in that way one feels such a thing,
and lowered my book, and peered over
my glasses to see her, her pupils large
and besilvered milkily. And now we have been
looking at one another for a long time,
I waiting for her to lay her head down and sleep again,
she perhaps wondering if the dark stillness,
available to her as scent at least, is me
or the ghost of me in my chair, there
even when I am not. And since I am wondering
what next endless memory will be taken up,
and wondering also how long our mutual study
might last, I rise and watch over my shoulder
as she traces the shape of my going
to the pantry, where I fetch her
one of the biscuits she loves.

Robert Wrigley has published nine collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Anatomy of Melancholy (Penguin, 2013). His poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Atlantic, Barrow Street, and The New Yorker, and were included in the 2003 and 2006 editions of Best American Poetry. Wrigley’s honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho State Commission on the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine, the Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Theodore Roethke Award from Poetry Northwest, and six Pushcart Prizes. From 1987 until 1988 he served as the state of Idaho’s writer-in-residence.