Oct 26th, 2011
- > A five-part poem by Mark Strand from BLIZZARD OF ONE
- > "Five Dogs"
- > 1
- > I, the dog they call Spot, was about to sing. Autumn
- > Had come, the walks were freckled with leaves, and a tarnished
- > Moonlit emptiness crept over the valley floor.
- > I wanted to climb the poets' hill before the winter settled in;
- > I wanted to praise the soul. My neighbor told me
- > Not to waste my time. Already the frost had deepened
- > And the north wind, trailing the whip of its own scream,
- > Pressed against the house. "A dog's sublimity is never news,"
- > He said, "what's another poet in the end?"
- > And I stood in the midnight valley, watching the great starfields
- > Flash and flower in the wished-for reaches of heaven.
- > That's when I, the dog they call Spot, began to sing.
- > 2
- > Now that the great dog I worshipped for years
- > Has become none other than myself, I can look within
- > And bark, and I can look at the mountains down the street
- > And bark at them as well. I am an eye that sees itself
- > Look back, a nose that tracks the scent of shadows
- > As they fall, an ear that picks up sounds
- > Before they're born. I am the last of the platinum
- > Retrievers, the end of a gorgeous line.
- > But there's no comfort being who I am.
- > I roam around and ponder fate's abolishments
- > Until my eyes are filled with tears and I say to myself, "Oh Rex,
- > Forget. Forget. The stars are out. The marble moon slides by."
- > 3
- > Most of my kind believe that Earth
- > Is the only planet not covered with hair. So be it,
- > I say, let tragedy strike, let the story of everything
- > End today, then let it begin again tomorrow. I no longer care.
- > I no longer wait in front of the blistered, antique mirror,
- > Hoping a shape or a self will rise, and step
- > From that misted surface and say: You there,
- > Come with me into the world of light and be whole,
- > For the love you thought had been dead a thousand years
- > Is back in town and asking for you. Oh no.
- > I say, I'm done with my kind. I live alone
- > On Walnut Lane, and will until the day I die.
- > 4
- > Before the tremendous dogs are unleashed,
- > Let's get the little ones inside, let's drag
- > The big bones onto the lawn and clean The Royal Dog Hotel.
- > Gypsy, my love, the end of an age has come. Already,
- > The howls of the great dogs practicing fills the air,
- > And look at that man on all fours dancing under
- > The moon's dumbfounded gaze, and look at that woman
- > Doing the same. The wave of the future has gotten
- > To them and they have responded with all they have:
- > A little step forward, a little step back. And they sway,
- > And their eyes are closed. O heavenly bodies.
- > O bodies of time. O golden bodies of lasting fire.
- > 5
- > All winter the weather came up with amazing results:
- > The streets and walks had turned to glass. The sky
- > Was a sheet of white. And here was a dog in a phone booth
- > Calling home. But nothing would ease his tiny heart.
- > For years the song of his body was all of his calling. Now
- > It was nothing. Those hymns to desire, songs of bliss
- > Would never return. The sky's copious indigo,
- > The yellow dust of sunlight after rain, were gone.
- > No one was home. The phone kept ringing. The curtains
- > Of sleep were about to be drawn, and darkness would pass
- > Into the world. And so, and so . . . goodbye all, goodbye dog.
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