Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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Walking the Dog

Should I worry when I say one thing but mean another?
Black sap drips from the trees. Sleeves of wind sway
like branches. Just beyond here the road falls into doubts.
Leaves are beginning to migrate. My dog measures the world
by sniffs. I measure it by how many things I can do at once.
I don’t think I have ever lived in one place at a time.
I think the workmen across the street are hanging gutters
to collect the sunlight. The older one has a face of twine.
Shadows of birds skim across the windows beneath them.
Coming up the hill the joggers seem to lean against the air.
Nice dog, but they don’t mean it. They’re afraid she’ll bite.
No one really says what they mean. Iztok says everything is
twilight, the confusions of evening. Tomaz thinks the world is
moist. He walks on the earth’s cliff edge. Darkness hums.
When I read the papers each morning I reinvent geography.
Above me now Jupiter is sliding its way across the sky.
A town in India has sunk twenty feet. The toxic spill in Hungary
is turning its map red again. It is important to keep busy.
Yesterday I went to Ken’s grave and put a stone on top of
his stone. In his Paul Jensen story he says you don’t have to have
been there to tell it. His characters speak words that are
flooded washes. Like him, what they have is what they give away.
Sometimes everything’s for sale. It’s as if we were all falling
out of trees. A train crash in the Ukraine, a stoning in Iran,
mud slides in Colombia. You can use one thing to take your mind
off another. Like the head of the Policeman in Mexico delivered
in a suitcase. Sometimes I think my corneas are melting. Now
the dog has sniffed out a few mole holes. They can burrow
a hundred feet a day. Why do dogs appear in so much literature?
When Odysseus returns thinking of revenge, his dog dies.
Acteon caught a glimpse of Diana and his own dogs ate him.
Tereza’s Karenin in Unbearable Lightness of Being dies of cancer.
How can Lightness be unbearable when it allows us to do one thing
but think another? All I have to do is drink a little limoncello
and I am right there in Monterroso al Mare with its lemons the size
of grapefruits that Montale wrote about. His poem, The Storm, is
really about the coming war which is never mentioned. You can
sense the dead shadows where his lover walked. We can’t help
but say one thing and mean another. The way a rock interrupts
the ocean’s vision of itself, or the way the mind keeps rearranging
events, like this, to let us think we are more moral than we are.    

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