Sunday with Labrador

by Sarah J. Sloat
The Waters
First Place, May 2008
Judged by Patricia Smith


My dog doesn’t need the Church.

She wants hands; she wants
the vagabond, to lope and mosey
with the whole body.

My dog wants nothing to do
with bloodshed or fluorescent lighting.
She’s here to unpack the grass.

Don’t try to teach her property.

Like God, she’s not industrious.

She goes along, eating what she finds.
Brown today, brown
all day tomorrow.


From the very first line ("My dog doesn't need the Church"), this concise little life lesson had me in its capable clutches. I loved its practicality, its tiny truths, its barely subdued smile. It's sparse and economical, but it backs a big wallop. I've shared this with merely a million people, and not all of them have dogs. And the last line is an unqualified classic, tolerating absolutely no argument. None whatsoever. Love it. --Patricia Smith

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