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Poem: Anniversary Aside (for My Four Leader Dogs)

March 21, 2020



NOTE: On this World Poetry Day, on this 30th anniversary of my working with four beloved and amazing Leader Dogs, and in the midst of these most extraordinary times–I share with you the following poem which I wrote this evening in the span of about forty-two minutes before Leader Dog Willow and I went on an anniversary walk. Of course, I will not count the time spent revising and editing this poem which I pondered off and on throughout the earlier hours of this Saturday.



Anniversary Aside


Poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Quietly, humbly, I show you my tiny grain of sand.

Can you see it? Can you feel it?

I do.

It is between my impeccably clean

Thumb and forefinger,

Where I roll the grain of sand

Back and forth, back and forth–

And I remember brightly and warmly–a little tearfully–

What this grain of sand represents:

My thirty years with four Leader Dogs.


Celebration of an anniversary is put aside

To concentrate on the ocean of happenings,

To poise and await a pandemic of patience,

To be alert to the cascade of kindness,

To pray for a preview of coming attractions

Wherein the world will be better, nearly worry-free, and much healthier .


Although I live across the boulevard from the Cathedral,

I hear no wedding bells.

Where is the anniversary cake?

Where is the Downton Abbey wine I saved for this day?

Where is the Holy Water?

The baptismal font lies empty–

But, perhaps, there, too, will be found a grain of sand–



In this grain of hope

Which I touch and cherish,

I hold my treasured memories

Of the blessings of my life–

Four extraordinary Leader Dogs:

Keller, Heather, Zoe, and Willow.

On this 21st of March,

Three decades after first touching Keller’s harness,

All I need to celebrate

Is my guide-dog memories

And Willow at my side.


* * *


With wishes that you also will be able to celebrate the grains of sand, wherever you find them!

Count blessings, be kind, and stay well!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


March 21, 2020, Saturday



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  1. Annie Chiappetta permalink

    Hi Alice,

    Happy anniversary. Stay well and safe.



    Ann Chiappetta, Author

    ` Making meaningful connections with others through writing ` or


    Facebook Annie Chiappetta

  2. Dear Alice,
    I do not have the words to describe the profound beauty and significance of this poem. I know that you have been looking forward to this date—your 30th Anniversary of having four very special Leader Dogs by your side. Your poster with photos of each of your Leader Dogs along with the heartfelt poem “A Guide Dog’s Prayer to St. Francis of Assisi” was greatly admired and appreciated by people far and near. Congratulations and Best Wishes Always to you and Leader Dog Willow on this special day!
    With love,

  3. Carole permalink

    Happy 30th Anniversary, Alice! It’s unbelievable how quickly this time has passed. Best to you and Willow!

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