Dog Days of Summer 2019
I said I would not, could not, listen to a book where the dog
died and my mother said okay, slotting the last cassette
of Anne of Green Gables back into place in the chunky plastic
audiobook case, okay, we could listen to The Celebrated Jumping Frog
of Calaveras County and not Old Yeller. This was on the drive from Iowa
to Colorado in my grandma’s brand new 1999 Jeep Cherokee,
she and my mother in the front seat, my sister coloring in the middle row
and me in the back, the new car smell making us all a little nauseous
or maybe it was just the altitude, the highway to Aspen snaking up
and up, lifting a carful of Midwesterners 8000 feet above sea level.
And maybe that was why my mother did it, too, or maybe it was because
we had been in the car 8 hours and it was only noon when she realized
that everyone hated The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,
everyone but me, when she switched the tape without saying anything
about it, so by the time I realized what had happened it was too late—
too late to demand to be let out at a rest stop, to ride the rest
of the way with my aunt and cousins in the other car, too late even
to stare out the window and will myself not to hear, because the story
had gotten me. And now, 20 years later almost exactly, I don’t even remember
the part where Old Yeller dies, just the mountains rising up around
the car like a headache, like blinders, and knowing that he would.
Mary Anning (1799-1847)
Things she sold by the seashore:
the story of being hit by lightning
Things she drew by the seashore:
Things she knew by the seashore:
that the lightning story was a money-maker
Things she loved and lost by the seashore:
her dog, Tray, killed in a landslide
This grief is familiar—
I feel it in my abdomen and jaw,
clenched neck and shoulders.
It tints the brightest days gray,
paints blue tinges on my reds and yellows,
wakes me from deepest slumber.
I watch my most loyal friend stumble,
the ache in her bones summons ache in my heart,
a call and response ancient and unending.
I have lived this death sentence before—
sobbed in anticipation of the loss,
as in its presence and its wake,
foreseen it in the Tarot of daily life:
slow, erratic gait,
frailty of old age that needs no training to read.
We choose companions, loves,
knowing we will lose them.
Childhood cannot last forever.
Spring and summer yield to fall and winter.
Your autumn may be past, or not,
This warm summer day may be your winter,
or that may come next spring.
All I know is that I will be with you,
and my heart will bleed,
and I will embrace you
along with my grief,
forever grateful for our time together.
One for Boris
I’m a little puppy dog.
I’m not sure what kind I am.
My name is Boris.
I’ve got my tag on.
I’ve got this curly
ears that stick up
and a look on my face.
Why did somebody hit me
and leave me on the
side of the road
to die and be
The Lady Is a Scamp
With one ear or the other so often
flopped open to fashion a pink gardenia
on the side of her head, her face
long and dark as a shadow,
eyes the color of chestnuts,
the dog might be Lady Day
come to visit this century.
The dog walker, quite coincidentally,
calls this dog of ours the Lady, as in
“Two poops for the Lady,” which note
she notes in a green spiral notebook,
which memo seems rather embarrassing
for the Lady. But the Lady in question
simply dons her most winningly wistful air,
strongly suggesting that a heart-
shaped cookie might soothe the slight.
Yvonne Zipter’s scary dog in “Night Noise” at EIL + she’s in past Dog Days features