Friday, November 22, 2013

Another poem about dogs


Some dog you were, invisible

                 At night

Draped in a black serape
Topped with a frayed balaclava
Worn rakishly or slightly askew


Only the antic silent film
Flicker of luminous orphaned
Legs to give you away
Phosphorescent afterglow
Of a calligraphic tail
Ghosting white at my margin
Of sight, sweep of the yard
Mullioned by the metronome  
Of the porch swing chain
With its parched dry


You worried cows
With crumpled horns
Crumbled before
the overwhelming urge
to kill guileless rabbits
your methods improvised


Kept to the scrim of shade


The house in high summer
A big post and beam affair
Tin roof feeding a stone cistern
Three chimneys wide as player pianos
Perched high above tombs of hearths
Sealed shut ever since
The Rural Electrification Act of 1935

A mothballed Cunard liner
Plated in whitewashed
Clapboard, staterooms
abandoned starboard and aft
When Mamaw and Papaw
Took to the lifeboats
Paring it down to parlor and kitchen
where we’d sit listening for the milk truck
A.M. station out of Seymour
Broadcasting the morning
Farm report through the screen door

Where you sat rapt and swept
dew from the flagstone
waiting on breakfast  

“Skim milk, crusts, middlings, bits
of doughnuts, wheat cakes with drops
of maple syrup sticking
to them, potato skins, leftover custard
pudding with raisins, and bits
of Shredded Wheat.”  *

one warm summer morning
on one of our annual visits south
wondering, perhaps, whether
any of us noticed
your apparent transformation
from last year’s
beagle collie mix
to some kind of variation
on shepherd mastiff terrier
another Mandarin 
of the Ring Dynasty. 

*Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

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