The spaniel wants out: Sparkie,
or something like that. His habit
the last few nights: midnight at the door,
not to return till six. He meets his friends,
you think, & they romp & hump
& return home to sleep.

You're alone in the house, awake,
pick up a poetry book & read thirty lyrics
so smooth they belie the ferocity
of their subjects: wild lives & cripplings
& a predation so savage you cannot stop
reading until sleep takes you, in which darkness
you dream of packs of dogs sprinting unrestrained
& feral in the watershed. They've tasted.
They're in chase. In this case it's a buck, which
they exhaust, which falters/tangles antlers
in the chaparral, stumbles/falls
& which they tear piece by piece.

Six. You wake before the alarm, sick
in your stomach, blame those poems, get up,
throw water on your face. As you dry you see him
walking south: the spaniel. He scratches at the door,
and you, dutiful sentry,
show him in.

His coat is matted, stuck with brambles.
His breath, crimson.

Gerald Fleming
Contents | Mudlark No. 3
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