Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Walking the Dog: A Text Poem

This started out as more conventional verse, but this is how it turned out. I never question the Muse.

Walking the Dog

No sweeter words caress the ridiculously tall ears of my resident Boston terrier than, “Wanna go for little walk?” Instantly her buggy eyes brighten; she dashes to the leash-draped chair. Her tongue begins flitting out and in over and over, licking her chops, one supposes, in anticipation of numerous fecal and urinary deposits she’ll soon render, but also those of other dogs she will subject to intense visual and olfactory inspection. From all indications a ritual of the tribe Canine beyond the grasp of mere human understanding. At least that’s the theory I entertain, though perhaps what’s beckoning outside is simply fresh air or the myriad smells in the grass, on mail box posts, and the unrecognizable bits of assorted matter on the sidewalk. Walks never bore if you’re a dog.

But I’m bored a-plenty: the same suburban facades, SUVs in the drives, the same silly yard ornamentation, the same grass and garden expanses betokening our collective Babbitry. The same sense of impending decay. Only an I-pod in the ear stills such contemplations. That, and an occasional foray off our habitual walking routes. Like the time we ventured onto the dusty churned-up path construction vehicles cut through grasses and weeds behind the houses. Preoccupied, if not rapt, by the sounds in my ears, I failed to notice the dog lagging, limping on three legs, till the tug on the leash: a vicious looking thistle between the pads of a front foot. Gushing with guilt—“How long has she been hurting like this?”—I plucked out the torment, picked her up, and carried her home.

This is not something normally done with humans whose lives often bristle with thistles. Them we just let limp or lay in the dust of the road.

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