Departments

That Damn Barking

The night is done, but I am still awake
Because the dog is barking just to bark
(I've checked it twice―there's nothing I can see.)
I tell myself it's dogs that made the world.
Outside the hungry night with teeth and claws
Inside the world, with space for human things.
My nails are short because a dog's are long;
My teeth are dull because a dog’s are sharp.
We shoot and shine, we spray and fence it in,
We pierce the lucid dark, we switch it off,
But dogs still keep their watch along the night.
The dogs came first, before the walls and roofs,
But cities need them not. The useless dogs
Of Moscow, idle, learn to waste their time.
My dog knows none of this. She keeps the faith.
She knows her work, she does as she was bred,
Makes way for life. The dog will have to learn.
I cannot live like this. But better this
Than nights when no dog barks, and certain sounds—
Sounds faint and dryly rasping in my ears
Drift in across a hanging-open door.