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This Morning According to Dog by Taylor Graham

This Morning According to Dog

dog and cat poems

On the cover: Taco
(Kuskokwim Taco v Flohr)
age eleven and a half years



Dogs don’t speak in syllables,
but surely he convinced you,
sent you rushing
to open the door. Himself
walked out, and in
tramped morning.
What you dreamed in your sleep
all tries to come through:
the real color of sky
and a whiff of a semblance
of changeable matter, clouds.
if you never watched weather
pass across an eye, a puddle,
a fragment of window-
glass. Did you never
sniff the parts it came from,
imagine its destinations,
did you never
arc a stream of greeting
as it all passed by?



How strange to set her,
who loves the folded dark
of secret places, on this blank
steel table of reflective
science, to allow the man in brisk
blue scrubs to probe the wound.

How strange to leave her –
child of lashing treetops,
lizard tails and slate-
gray junco feathers –
to a metal cage, to scalpel,
sutures and the cleansing drain.

And will she come back
with the same cello vibrato
to her purr, the midnight
window-scapes, solitary rooftop
tango, dive for daylight
that's precipitate and sure?



Never let the beasts on the furniture.
In particular, the bed.
A cat allowed at any time the comfort
will cease mousing; will stretch
in a long black concavity
mocking the idle phase of the moon.
Waking to the itch of mouse,
she’ll stalk instead your toes
under sheets. A dog is worse.
Measuring his spine against yours,
he finds the center,
leaving you the edge
for answering phone and doorbells.
He learns your dreams;
with his nearer language
by daylight he recalls.
And instants before the alarm goes off,
he takes this discipline
to your waking:
breath more insistent than the clock
ticks, and the pricked eyes.
A dog knows no Sundays.
His devotion drills you out of bed.
Later you’ll find
a ghost of dogform on the spread,
pillow subtly out of place.
But the dog
is waiting at the door
to walk you.



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