Rochelle Nameroff
Yellow Dog Blues

For half the morning I watched him
running around his caged-in yard
from one mesh wall to the next, paws up,

the idea of a whimper not yet there
inside that barking place we all know
as the opening to the world.

And so he paced, continuing
to believe in a hole somewhere
if he kept going, while the sun

smiled down its empty sullen heat
and the grass bent down in patterns.
Then a sickly bleat of sound came out

and kept on coming, forsaken, not to be
overheard though I heard him, a sound
like the one before the rifleshot

when the bowels drop their shame
and everyone watches, knowing
it could be them and knowing it's not,

could never be, and therefore glad,
shoulders leaning to blend into the group
who stand there, a silent cheer going up.

Did he expect me to let him out?
He wasn't mine.  I barely even knew
whose form I was, my own or a stranger

on a tour, whose eyes looked older,
less able to take in the light
without a hand to make it shadow.

And so I listened, head down and furtive,
as if by now I was hearing someone
who knew there was no audience, no

other, a low sound then, beautiful
and pure, and finally a large blank gap
as he took a long time to give up.