05 March, 2011

The Dog Show

You don’t know the dog show
has been staged for your benefit
and all these dogs represent
people you’ve forgotten to thank
for their contributions to your life.

You don’t see that the handlers
in their odd and dowdy suits
are the teachers who brought you
the lessons you needed to learn
and paraded them before you.

You don’t recognize that those shiny coats
and brushed out fur and white hard teeth
are signifiers of crucial junctures
when you worshipped style over substance
and feared the honest chomp of a deserved bite.

All you know is the vague preferences
that stir you. You like the Westie,
the Skye, the Bearded Collie;
you are indifferent to the Toys;
you feel love for the Scottish Deerhound,

and that Viszla reminds you of
moments you were just ahead of Death,
who coursed behind you snapping at your heels
and guiding you to this moment where you
are the dog show watcher.

You are fur, and breath, and memory.
You are observing effort that you’d never make yourself.
You are badly dressed and amazed and squealing
over animals that seem perfect and at ease when they move.
You wish you’d done something like this with your life.

~ ~   Tony Brown