Animals Are Entering Our Lives

It’s not exactly a dog poem, but I think it is so striking and thought-provoking. Poem by Liesl Mueller, featured in her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Alive Together.

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ANIMALS ARE ENTERING OUR LIVES
Liesel Mueller

“I will take care of you,” the girl said to her brother, who had been turned into a deer. She put her golden garter around his neck and made him a bed of leaves and moss. — from an old tale

Enchanted is what they were
in the old stories, or if not that,
they were guides and rescuers of the lost,
the lonely, the needy young men and women
in the forest we call the world.
That was back in a time
when we all had a common language.

Then something happened. Then the earth
became a place to trample and plunder.
Betrayed, they fled to the tallest trees,
the deepest burrows. The common language
became extinct. All we heard from them
were shrieks and growls and wails and whistles,
nothing we could understand.

Now they are coming back to us,
the latest homeless, driven by hunger.
I read that in the parks of Hong Kong
the squatter monkeys have learned to open
soft drink bottles and pop-top cans.
One monkey climbed an apartment building
and entered a third-floor bedroom.
He hovered over the baby’s crib
like a curious older brother.
Here in Illinois
the gulls swarm over the parking lots
miles from the inland sea,
and the Canada geese grow fat
on greasy leftover lunches
in the fastidious, landscaped ponds
of suburban corporations.
Their seasonal clocks have stopped.
They summer, they winter. Rarer now
is the long, black elegant V
in the emptying sky. It still touches us,
though we do not remember why.

But it’s the silent deer who come
and eat each night from our garden,
as if they had been invited.
They pick the tomatoes and the tender beans,
the succulent day-lily blossoms
and dewy geranium heads.
When you labored all spring,
planting our food and flowers,
you did not expect to feed
an advancing population
of the displaced. They come,
like refugees everywhere,
defying guns and fences
and risking death on the road
to reach us, their dispossessors,
who have become their last chance.
Shall we accept them again?
Shall we fit them with precious collars?
They scatter their tracks around the house,
closer and closer to the door,
like stray dogs circling their chosen home.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Apologies for the lack of posts lately; life has been so busy and I have really not had time for blogging. I will still be updating Pyrrha’s adventures and our progress with her, but the posts may be a little less regular than they were. Hope that you all have excellent weekends!

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