Sunday, March 29, 2009


author’s note:

As I was working on this poem, I learned of the recent death of a friend, Gisela Kirberg--therapist, translator, tango dancer, interpreter of fairy tales.

I wondered what poem I might dedicate to her.  Then I realized this one includes two of her great joys: dogs and the world of dreams.  I think she would appreciate the synchronicity of this choice.

I also realize that the poem refers to a loved one who remains with us.


In their dreams
dogs never recognize
the symbology
of trees,
of rabbits,
of other tail ends.

Yet I bow to
any being who
can smell
the secret guest
and hear
the silent pulse

--whose nerve endings
alert the wag of the tail
when I’m still
miles from home.

Who’s aware
of Aunt Marabelle,
though she’s been dead
these nineteen years

aware of her
as she stands in the doorway

while I chop carrots,
and watch TV,

Perhaps I want
that dog beside me
--not just for the adoration--
but because she retains
so much
of what I have lost.

I try to listen
in the forest
in the way
that the dog listens.

To listen is to see.

But though I usually fail
to clear away the mundane--
after I’ve given up

I suddenly stop again
as I recognize how
the scene has changed:

though the hard trees
and quivering
grass stalks
still appear indifferent--
I can sense something
of their deeper mystery--

finally then
I begin to feel
what I wish
I could see and hear.

With such small steps
--in the resounding quiet
of the forest--
I ease my way
carefully forward
towards a truth
the dog accepts
as commonplace.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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