Thursday, January 29, 2009
Three Dog Day
“No, I don’t want another dog,” said my mother.
“You get attached.”
She said it two times before my father
brought home another dog.
Whenever she remembered their first dog,
her face brightened into shining happiness.
“He was a Cocker Spaniel”, she said.
“He was smart. You never needed to tell him anything.
He guarded your baby carriage when I went shopping.
You don’t remember. He brought your father his shoes.”
Skippy was the Collie
Of flowing red and white hair,
Daredevil and fearless
Like a Spartan at Thermopylae.
He faced down cars and was run over.
In a last vast burst of overflowing energy
he galloped back onto the front porch
bloody and screaming and expired.
After that my Teddy Bear became important,
which he had never been before.
Half a decade later my mother said,
“I don’t want another dog. You get attached.”
The third dog was a boxer bitch.
When my father brought her home
she pranced down the hall to my mother
of the waiting white bright smile of mind.
Dusty died when I was in college.
She was a teenager in human years.
My mother held she was almost human,
and had mastered English, not just to understand,
but to make her meaning known.
“She could talk”, my mother said.
She nodded her head knowingly.
“You get attached,” she said.
N.B. Part of a much larger work, this poem stands alone as a dedication to the poet Belden Crane Johnson, whose Snake Blossoms, in its truth and simplicity, was, and remains, ahead of the times. Indeed, since the times have been in reverse for at least a generation, perhaps more ahead now than when it was first published.