The temporary paradox of death in life: writing a tanka for our family pet on his passing

The first Wednesday evening of this month, (October 3, 2018) our family’s Great Dane passed away peacefully resting under a cedar tree. His body had been breaking down; it was his time. Dakar had lived a full life, longer than expected for his breed. Even though he was no longer physically with us, I still felt his presence into the next day. It led me to contemplate the paradoxical nature of death and wrote this tanka for him that next morning as a way to try and understand this temporary contradiction, and express what I was feeling at the time.

Maybe some of you have had a similar experience after losing a loved one—a pet, a close friend, or a family member. I read this out this morning at a Death Café after hearing other people describe their experiences of grief, and unexpected surprises when a loved one passed. It was healing for all of us to share.

The Temporary Paradox of Death in Life
A tanka for Dakar on his passing

Silence, Peacefulness
A Fullness of Emptiness
Feeling you still here

An Absence of your Presence
A Presence of your Absence

© Ken Chawkin
October 27, 2018
Fairfield, Iowa

Tags: , , , , ,

5 Responses to “The temporary paradox of death in life: writing a tanka for our family pet on his passing”

  1. olgac1 Says:

    Hi Kenny I love your poem Did Dakar belong to a friend? Were you close to him? love Olga I also wrote a poem for Juba after she died.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken Chawkin Says:

      Thanks, Olga. Did you share that poem with me? Can you post it here? I just edited the title and first sentence to make it clear he was our family dog. Dakar originally belonged to our daughter. He was a big beautiful dog, a gentle giant with a good nature. His body had the same beige color as a deer. I knew him over the years when we would visit her, and later when she temporarily moved in with our son in Dallas when he worked there. She would also visit us in Fairfield with him. She later married and was traveling a lot. When they were planning on moving out west, to help out, Toba offered to take him to live with her in the countryside until they got settled. But it worked out so well for both of them that he ended up spending the rest of his life with her. I would also visit him there. They shared a special connection. I saw him the day before he died.


  2. Margot Says:

    I love this poem. It is beautiful. A dog, particularly when it is an older family friend, expresses so beautifully that calm Beingness and trust which seems to be an innate quality of Nature and all things long-lasting. The simplicity, faithfulness and peace such a dog breathes seems to refer to the character of life or nature itself – pure existence – and all things natural. When one remembers one’s old canine friend, it immediately comes back – the reminder of an eternal quality of calmness and presence which is the nature of existence itself. Thanks for this, Ken!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carla Brown Says:

    Thank you so much, Kenny.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Two profound poems by Stephen Levine: in the realm of the passing away & millennium blessing | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Related posts worth seeing: Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, Buddha in Glory, reminds us of our eternal nature within; John Glenday’s poem, Concerning the Atoms of the Soul, illuminates and nourishes the mind; and The temporary paradox of death in life: writing a tanka for our family pet on his passing. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: