Karen Loeb

Dog Years Count

I’m five hundred eleven in dog years.

My husband is four hundred ninety. 

A young pup compared to me. 

Our daughter is in triple digits now

with one hundred fifty-four years. Last month 

my brother in California turned five hundred thirty-nine. 

My mother died in Florida when she was five hundred eighteen. 


Our cat Pearl is eighty-four in dog years, 

but that might not be right. It seems like it’s breaking 

a rule to talk of cats in terms of dogs. The Wisconsin 

house we lived for one hundred eighty-nine years

is now eight hundred forty, our new car 

is approaching twenty-eight, and this golden ring 

around my finger is two hundred fifty-two,

but I don’t know if objects count.


My father in California lasted longer, until he 

was six hundred thirty, in dog years, that is. 

With that age, he’s approaching the biblical—

Noah was definitely a comrade, or could have been. 

I can imagine my father dragging him out to the garage, 

showing him the work table and wood, asking him

which saw he’d like to use, and handing him the boards. 

No one would think it odd that a man wearing flowing 

white robes, with a beard down to his navel 

was in my father’s garage about to build an ark—

it was California after all, and near the mountains 

that would soon send down the snowmelt and cause a flood.

Karen Loeb was Eau Claire, Wisconsin's writer-in-residence 2018-2020. Her stories and poems have appeared in Halfway Down the Stairs, Hanging Loose, Gyroscope Review, Carve, and other magazines. Her work has won both the fiction and poetry contests in Wisconsin People and Ideas.