Bio Note: I am a poet, swimmer and dog lover who recently retired from teaching English and French in a public high school in Los Angeles. These poems all appeared in my second full-length collection, Moraine, by Pearl Editions. In these difficult times, I am very grateful to have a dog in my life!
Dog peruses the oleanders, prodding with his body among the poisonous leaves, lifting scent into his snout through the trembling black doors of his nostrils. He gives every plant this close reading, ponders each one, and the stolid lamp posts, the hydrants, the bottlebrush’s wizened bark. Go, I tell him. You haven’t peed since sunset yesterday! I lead him to the old familiar places but they won’t do. He looks at me, his eyes mutter something about a muse, and I understand. We cross the street to the homes with lawns and again he is reading the complex layers of scent left by his peers on lawns, on trunks of birches, eucalyptus. That’s it. Enough! I say, guiding him back toward home. Finally in dry weeds behind a palm tree the muse speaks; Dog balances on three legs to compose his latest opus.
The dog trembles at the window every muscle tense under his golden coat as he watches the cat lick its long crutch-like leg. Does his imagine what he might do if he could finally have that cat? Is he planning some future deed – the pounce, the furry soft belly clamped in his powerful jaw, the frenzy of shaking with his terrible head – or is he merely caught up in the passion of observation? I think of the ice cream that lies in wait on the freezer shelf trembling in its carton, coldly plotting the ambush: as you round the corner it will punch the door open fly out of its dark recess hurl itself down your startled throat assault you with its voluptuous fatness – There will be no question then of who is master, who is prey no indication of a struggle; only the spent carton holding the tired spoon will remain, the victim having crawled off, stupefied, to the dim bedroom where sleep will claim its own undefended prey.
©2020 Tamara Madison
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