Eight litters in five years, one crooked eye, teats enlarged
and pendulous, not the feathery Golden Retriever
of my dreams, but our eyes had already met. I wasn’t leaving
her with the breeder who reaped his profits and was dumping
Dawn at six-years-old. I intruded her in college classes,
the library, friend’s homes for dinner. Some asked me
to leave her outside, where she’d dutifully wait on the stoop.
When I returned, she’d bark her bliss, taking my hand in her mouth
pulling me to the car saying, You’re mine, all mine. Despite her
devotion, she was a primal huntress of woodchucks.
She’d shadow them, shake the backs of their necks
till they dangled lifeless. My boyfriend, a bit basic himself,
announced that tanned breasts excited him. Eager to please,
I bared my body to afternoon sun in a clearing in the woods.
Dawn came and went snuffling possibilities—then returned
plopping her kill at my feet.
Suddenly, the woodchuck came to life and charged me.
Just for a hoot, Dawn let me scramble over stones,
boobs jostling through briars, as I ran for my life,
then saved me with one fell swoop.
Researchers would give their eye teeth to discover
the first dogs. Were they stolen from wolves
by cave persons, or savvy beggars who stood
on hind legs, curling front paws for a scrap
of roasted Mastodon? They puzzle over pups
who ferry clumps of food to eat four feet from
their bowls. Are they shielding morsels from alphas,
or do they lack regard for carpeting?
Do we believe the fable of their delight in rolling
in the smelliest decay for fun—
or to disguise their scent from predators—
or is it revenge for enduring four-hour groomings?
If you ask your hound, he’ll look self-conscious,
then yawn, but the twitches and yelps
while he dreams reveal he’s the spirited adventurer
who charmed his way into our hearts.
Donna Reis’s debut poetry collection, No Passing Zone, published by Deerbrook Editions (December, 2012) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was the co-editor and contributor to the anthology, Blues for Bill: A Tribute to William Matthews, (Akron Poetry Series, 2005). Her non-fiction book, Seeking Ghosts in the Warwick Valley, (Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. 2003) has sold nearly 3000 copies. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. Reis received her Master of Arts Degree in Creative Writing from City College, City University of New York in 2002.