Bio Note: These poems emerge from very small moments: an observation in a café, the new dog making a beeline for the exact spot the old, sick dog slept. I feel very lucky when poems grow out of such precise places. For anyone interested, you can find information on my website (see above) about my four books of poetry, as well as many individual poems (the site does need updating, but, somehow, getting to that is like getting to cleaning the fridge). I have poems coming out soon in Slant, Pratik, and Schuylkill Valley Journal, among other places.
The lady at the neighboring table in the hospital coffee shop takes a sip from her cup and I see—quickly looking away—what looks like a boneless extra hand in an embryonic state, dimpled where fingers might grow, hanging from the side of her ordinary hand opposite her thumb. Cells heady with their own wills running away with themselves? Some mutant gene expressed at birth, or activated by an environmental switch? Hardly different from the panoplies of accident that created our species, and the host of living creatures—beautiful, strange, or ugly in our eyes— glass frog, leaf-tailed gecko, Venezuelan poodle-moth looking like Fifi, blob fish, star-nosed mole, as well as the myriads lost in the Holocene, like the great auk, golden toad, dodo. I sneak a glance again, but do not smile, since that might say I noticed. Placidly, she forks a bit of salad to her lips, seemingly ignoring or accepting the appendage that must come along on that tiny voyage. Stranger things are part of us, and therefore loved, as long as need be.
It may be that smells move us so profoundly...because we cannot utter their names. —Diane Ackerman Our sick dog lay under the end table, head cocked for our steps, eyes still speaking to us, before his last trip to the vet. And that was the first place his replacement sniffed, though, ruefully, we'd kept our date to have the rug shampooed the morning after we put him down. No-Name-Yet smells fresh as babies— released from the pound all damp fur and sweet breath. She makes me feel a little like a mid-life parent, saved from sterility by a miracle cure. Two days ago I could have howled for hours, now I'm rough-housing on the floor, till she takes time out to reread the unwritten document, his old spot. Could we have not erased his signature? Suddenly I'm low to the ground to know, taking in pheromones cross-species, nose like a mourner's in a sleeve— Darker than his or sourer? shaggier?—Old Dog perfume.
Originally published in Pearl (Summer, 2002)
©2020 Judy Kronenfeld
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