top of page

Breath & Shadow

Spring 2014 - Vol. 11, Issue 2

"Dog Years" and "For Sylvia Plath"

written by

Abigail Astor

"Dog Years"

Is my life to be

like that of a dog

where every one year

equals seven?


The commercial shows

a fast forward montage

starting with puppyhood

and ending with that last arthritic step


I measure my life as a series of lasts

The last time I walked to Rite Aid

without a rollator


The last time I tied the laces of my orthotics

before switching to Velcro


The last time I will be maneuvered up the porch stairs

by the strongest relative at Christmas


The last time I will go to the Promenade

not in a motorized wheelchair


The last time I will have

a normal echocardiogram


The last time I will get

out of bed by myself


The last time you will hold me



"For Sylvia Plath"



Is an art, like everything else.

I do it exceptionally well.

         -from “Lady Lazarus”


Oh, Lady Lazarus

What have you done?


A perfect poem

every morning before dawn

is too much

even for a genius.


One needs to know

exactly where to stop

I have more lives

than the cat

Suicide and sickness

I recover again and again


Now middle-aged,

I quietly exist


Lining up my medications

once a week.

Carefully placing each pill

in its compartment


If only you had lasted

until lithium


You could be 81 now

less prolific perhaps

but producing

the most brilliant poems of joy


Survival also

requires expertise

Abigail Astor is a poet, editor and proofreader. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in English from Queens College. Her work has previously appeared in Breath and Shadow. Abigail struggles with Muscular Dystrophy, Bipolar Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner, Jane, and their miniature poodle, Lulu. She can be reached at

bottom of page