I am happy to live in the ken
of canines, to be taken in
by their gaze, and to gaze
on them, for the long moments of saying
nothing. I like to wait out
the nano-delay—a bacon bit in my palm
under a cartilaginous nose—
until a nostril quivers, and to imagine
all 300 million olfactory receptors sieving
the air. I love the warmth of mammalian
weight, gift-wrapped in fur, the soothe
to my fingers of flanks.
I would have dogs teach me how
to lie on the lawn with no purpose more
than the grass has, to breathe in the sun,
or to sit on the sofa, chin on the sill,
regarding the window all afternoon.
Now that my aching hip and knee
make me want to mewl at 3 A.M.,
now that so many friends I romped with
are fading or gone, if any joy comes,
I want it to spin me around so my feet
leave the ground, I want to grab
whatever treat the world throws
into my mouth, to chew it at once
and completely, without nostalgia,
Catch and Release
My fierce and anxious mother used to cast
an eagle-eye-net over her only child, and, later,
her grandkids—at the playground,
on the sidewalks—as if her gaze could corral
them like a sheepdog, because Something
was always crouching, like a lion in the shade,
to snatch the smallest drifter from the herd.
And now my own heart races outrageously
when any of my grandkids can’t be gathered
into the seine net of my glance.
Like the littlest wriggler, all of five,
capricious as an unschooled fish—
the world his iridescent oyster shell,
to find and to admire—who loves to give
his folks the slip, and vanish.
Whom no one notices sliding away
till submerged to the neck, in the calm, sliding sea,
while the tide rises, and the breeze comes up,
turning its pearly surface to shards.
Too late when I look up for the tenth time
from my book to scan the children digging in the sand
and shout his name where is he where is he
while his mother, panicked, runs
towards a commotion down the strand.
But oh! the nifty tricks of chance—
how a local fisherman anchored close in,
how he happened to look,
how he plucks you out,
as if in a children’s story book.
And here you are! our lamb,
our joy, cherubic
in your mother’s tightening arms,
come back smiling—unaware—
from the world’s great snare, uncaught.
And the Something, nearly fed,