by Judy Kronenfeld
Door accidentally left ajar
and the new dog’s gone,
a splendid flame
devouring the open road.
I scream her name—
the one anthropomorphized
into being as she licked
my fingers through the bars
at the pound—and am not
surprised it has
no claim on her.
Shocked at the profundity
of my grief, I scour
the neighborhood on foot—
then in my car, windows open,
yelling hoarsely into the wind,
but she’s split. The streets
rebuke me with
Our mammal blood
finds beauty in some furred
beings, as clearly as in
a human face. I see hers
with all the gravity
of a memorial portrait, remember
how we joked “she’s a beauty
and she knows it,” as if that beauty
reflected positively on us!, how we
chuckled as her long white rump fur
swung to and fro as she trotted
chicly before us—like tassels
dangling from a chorus girl’s bodice.
An hour later there she is,
on the porch, waiting politely
to be let in, the vixen! She settles
into her corner of the living room,
agrees to her evening walk
on the leash, licks my cheek when I bend
to release her again. And though I feel
like the teacher whose student
sat in the front row, gah-gah-eyed
all quarter, then slammed her
on the evals, of course I forgive
my dog (as if she understood that)
because something lost–so missed—
returned, returns more than what
was lost. Oh children are patted
down again, comforters drawn
to their chins, parents in easy
chairs after tucking real children in—not
touching pictures to their lips, hating
themselves for that second they weren’t
vigilant—kith and kin at home
in their tracts, ancestors tucked
into his and her plots, none of them
flooded into the next county,
tsunamied to another country—you think this is
too much, but look at us, one furred,
one not, neighborly as we were
in our Pleistocene cave at the beginning
of our long and peaceful friendship,
our housebreaking of the wild, not scheduled
to burn up in the sun, but at home
at the hearth of the world,
our scents marked here forever.
IMAGE: Watercolor by Pablo Romero. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.
SOURCE: Originally published in Cimarron Review 163 (Spring, 2008); reprinted in Judy Kronenfeld, Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
My relatively newly adopted mutt, with whom I fell in love at the country pound, took off not too long afterwards, when we were busy with house renovations, and the door might have been left ajar. The experience was so piercing, and the relief so overwhelming that everything I had ever thought and felt about loss, as well as recovery, and related current world and local events (well, the poem made me realize I had been thinking about these subjects) came pouring out, and got swept in.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Izzy, our dog (though she’s quite a bit older here than she was when she ran away from home).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Kronenfeld’s fourth collection of poetry, Bird Flying through the Banquet, was published by FutureCycle Press in March 2017. Her most recent prior books of poetry are Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012) and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, second edition, (Antrim House, 2012), winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her poems have previously appeared in Avatar, American Poetry Journal, Calyx, Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, DMQ Review, Hiram Poetry Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Louisville Review, Natural Bridge, The Pedestal, Portland Review, Sequestrum, Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other print and online journals, and in 20 anthologies. She is Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, University of California, Riverside, and an Associate Editor of the online poetry journal Poemeleon. For more information, please see her website, judykronenfeld.com.