Beasts

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A poem about man's eons-old relationship with man's best friend. Woof!

The beast heals some woe in me,
collecting smells from my jacket when
I return home, like a soothsayer reliving
the dusts of my day. Not for the people
I've been, nor why I left or am leaving;
that I still breathe & abide is enough
to wag the whole dog.

The beast, eternally present, cuts
deep into the underbelly with a glance;
worm for the heart like a rotting apple,
though I can't say why. I exist to her
only in the privacy of the pack — our
shared now — the potential of which
she jaws with instinct.
 
The beast sleeps, kicking feet in
little dream tugs. Black eyes roil
under lids; watch as the knotted
heart of rope arcs through visions
like a fly lure in the gallup of shattering
Fall air. It's frozen in time, hovering over
the ombre of her oil-black brindle,
shadow on shadow.
 
The beast watches the cord
in hang time. Beneath, bounding and
heaving lithely, champing and braying
like a Cerberus that would surely die
to keep me safe. Who would have
thought: the love of my life, puking
and digging in the yard like
a moon-drunk lunatic.
 
The beast stokes furnaces of
agriculture, nascent civilizations. As a child,
we buried every animal that died on our
property — a cow named Burger, schools
of fighting fish, that ferret and his morning
chirps, a parade of canaries in my mind
keeling with the seasons.
 
The beast, it guards green spaces that
crowd the gnarled heartwood. My life
contains multitudes: dog tags in junk drawers,
markers on the trail. Notches cut into a branch,
shards of heart binding me with millions along
the road to domestication. 
 
— "Beasts"
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