Little Max, I’m so short-ranged.
So dense. The dog
eloquence of your urine is wasted on me.
Still you rise on hind legs in a circus pose,
settle at my feet, and I feel clean.
Today’s early September breeze is fine.
The clarity of light helps me
perceive and perceive and perceive –
the blending of your brown, black and white
hairs, the way your ears respond, creased at times
like paper boats. I see patterns – a tan
stripe down the underside of your tail
expanding to a loopy trident
at the base. The center tine
divides your balls – your unabashed
and humorous balls.
Humor, Max. Humor.
Some people persist on faith. But you’ve
got to have humor, and it’s obvious – you have the knack.
You should see yourself – asleep on your back,
faintly snoring in the plush dog bed!
Maurice, of all people, nudges me –
wants me to look without waking you.
Your rear legs are splayed and the front ones
stick up, bent at the hocks – ebony nails pointing
at your belly. You’re like a cartoon, Max.
You remind me of the carrots.
See, last year I got rheumatoid arthritis.
The pain from my swollen joints
was yellowish, blaring – almost nauseous.
Then the meds gave me pneumonia, with fevers
and anemia. At night that summer,
I woke almost every hour. My pillows were soaked
with sweat. My mouth was sticky and dry,
yet I dreaded sitting up
to reach my water. My wrists
and elbows were sore, so I had to heave up from
the hip – I couldn’t press the mattress without gasping.
The lurch upright brought on a wild
tachycardia. And that thumping –
the anarchy in my chest – brought on fear.
That’s something I couldn’t get out
from under, Max. I was afraid one of those times
my heartbeat wouldn’t settle.
Afraid I’d never be well again.
One night I gave up on sleep,
and limped across the hall to the computer. There was
mail from my sister – Subject: Obscene carrots.
I clicked it open. The screen filled
with an orange host of un-sellable carrots,
shaped like genitals and fat, crossed legs. They looked
unconcerned, sturdy – sporting root hairs and dirt.
Those ridiculous, lewd roots almost winked!
Max, I laughed and laughed, though
laughing uses oxygen. Because who ever knows
what comes next? I wasn’t healed – in fact
I ended up in the hospital – but for the first time
in weeks I felt clean.