Bio Note: I can be harshly critical of this poem—and others I've written like it—but it returns like the image of its subject, and it's a poem I suppose that is so dear to the heart of the writer than it cannot be put aside for too long a time. It has never appeared in print or online. My most recent collection is Selected Poems, (FutureCycle Press, 2016).
2002-2018 Caged in the shelter, you were Stoic’s tutor, paws imperiously crossed, you’d look away when approached with an air of ‘I don’t care’ as family after family disappeared while you remained there. Maybe it was the knowledge of the evening in your eyes, or fur the color of wheat in wind, or that white star on your forehead, as if marked by the heavens for some great task, or glory, a thing you could not win. In any case, abandoned and abused we took you in, a foundling, you came back to love the world again, and whenever I was at the keyboard too long a time you would brush by my chair, then sit and stare up at me forever it seemed, and if ignored you’d use your snout to bump my forearm again and again until I could not type, knowing it was time for something truly important, the evening bowl, a romp, some attention. None of this would change your course, the one elemental direction you seemed to be moving toward, at sixteen you limped about the house not hearing my call, but following me everywhere, pushing yourself along, all senses dimmed, and I knew whatever became of you became of Sappho, Homer and Dante too, and you are now no less than they, nor are they greater than you. I imagine you should rest among your countrymen snug in their graves, the pets of Powerscourt say, in County Wicklow, dogs of the greenest fields, Molly and Shep, better than a cenotaph in Père Lachaise with all its human sin, or that cedar box that now sits at the corner of my desk, or your phantom nudge at the keyboard. But you have joined another company, the unknown chronotope; I’ll be along presently.
©2021 Michael Gessner
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