Give a Dog a Bone

I go to the animal shelter when I require

treatment, an outlet to talk about my desires

and hungers of the heart to a Shar Pei-

Shepard mix, because anyone else, they

would find my words impractical, enough

to write me off as made of nothing but fluff.

Which I’m not. It’s funny how we can be so certain

of our own comprehension hiding behind a curtain

one week and the other be so baffled that we

contemplate a mental illness screening. Or is that just me?

Like how I look at you, then the scrapbook I made last

summer while being tackled by my dog in the grass,

and wonder why you look at me like that — or

more accurately why you choose to explore

the side of life Monty Python does

not sing about, but infers. I wonder because

I rather like the changing color of my eyes,

my inability to despise

anyone entirely, my polyester skirt that makes me

feel pretty and I can write fourteen gutsy

pages on Nichomachean Ethics without crying and,

hell, you’re not the perfect specimen yourself. But then, if we stand

on a backlit hardwood stage while measuring perfection,

those people in the folding chairs finalize their selection

without a background check, and you have a baker’s dozen more

of stage presence than I do. Hey, this might be a bore

to you, but speaking of bakers, did you know

that Queen Elizabeth, long ago,

forbid the sale of hot cross buns, except for

special occasions, or during war

time? Half for you, half for me,

between us two shall goodwill be.

Sorry, you didn’t register that reference?

Perhaps that reiterates my preference

for the seasoned, and yours for the new.

I can play that jingle on the Jew-

Harp, can you? Of course you can,

you can play it on eight instruments, like the front man

of a symphony. Or orchestra, at least.

 

At the shelter they play Beethoven concertos in

the doggy dormitory to keep the mutts calm. It doesn’t begin

to work, because the Chihuahua Frodo wont’ stop his raspy cry,

but at least they try.

And then my mind wanders, I let that hurtful beast

wreak havoc on my amygdala and of course you

don’t think of the nickname some of our acquaintances tattooed

to my temple, or when you do, the word RUNT smacks you on the cheek.

What’s in a face? Other than the ability to seek

beautiful visions and to smell things and taste things and spit.

And zits.

After all, I measure time in Cadbury egg sales, and would rather end

a long day with PG Tips than PBR. I cannot pretend

I am one of those sporty edgy sensual girls

nor am I a string of milky pearls

or a rose for you to pick and sniff. I am

an inbetweener. Not a lion or a lamb,

a strikeout or grand slam. I trip enough in tennis shoes

to stay away from stilettos — mind you, this is without booze

involved — and I get lost in Costco if I spin around three

times: I get so turned around, I might as well be lost at sea.

 

My favorite path is right outside the canine orphanage: a

canopied trail parallel to an abandoned train track. Away

from the noise, I don’t have to worry about other dogs who snap

at my wrinkly friend, or people who direct to me the same crap.

Downing a bitter elixir my family brewed

in the cellar, my brain becomes skewed

and stretched in angles I don’t normally exercise,

and I don’t know how many times I have fantasized you rejecting my tries

to win your affection, or at least your lust.

Every time you respond differently; not so much in disgust,

but more of bewilderment and embarrassment and detachment.

By now my judgment is spent, and I wonder what this soliloquy meant,

because after this internal little tête-a-tête, the results to my mental exam

leave me looking slightly more insane than I actually am.

 

The dog I was telling you about, with sand-skin fur,

her name is Spirit. Maybe I should adopt her

for both our health. For if you give a dog a bone,

chances are she’ll want to follow you home.

Annie Gough is from Grosse Pointe, Michigan and is currently studying to be an English major at Kalamazoo College. This is her first literary publication.

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