I am proud to feature a new poem from poet and novelist, Jenny Kalahar!
by Jenny Kalahar
In a dream state, or hypnotic flow
I found myself somehow talking dog
Or she found herself talking English.
It only felt strange for that first “hello”
And then I forgot that she was normally a pretty quiet dog
And my dog forgot to hold her tongue
I was enchanted by the way her fuzz-fringed lips moved
The syllables, the vowels were very well done
Nice and crisp, without a stammer
We had no secrets, for my part
But I had questions to impart
And so we sat to chat a while beneath the evening’s golden moon
Where were you born? I asked of Weegee
Where did you live when just a pup?
She thought a moment, closing eyes to clearly recollect:
“I think I was born in a wild wood
The nights were cold, Mom’s milk was thin
There were things we were scared of now and then
My mother left before she ought
We were found then, starving, and were brought
To a barn, a farm, a place where horses stood and stomped
And would have stomped us all to death
But I ran off one stormy night – just left
I found a highway and sat down
At the ratted edge of some small town
An old man found me; he carried me to a shelter
And there I was for several months
Through Christmas, longer – it was rough
But then you came, you and your mate
I knew right off we’d find a way
To be a family, be together
And so . . . I didn’t let myself remember
Where I’d been or how I’d lived
There were only warm arms to lift me up
Only kind words, only sweetness
And that is how I came to be
What I am now – your contented dog.”
I hugged her then; I kept her on my lap
As night-birds called and breezes flowed
I had more questions, more to know
I stroked her back and asked, quite low:
Have you understood the words I’ve said
Through these years together, my sweet friend?
She lifted her muzzle to stare at me
Meeting my eyes earnestly
“What are words? What are you asking?
The sounds we make as we are basking
In the love we feel don’t matter, no . . .
I feel what you feel when you throw my ball
Or pat my head, or walk with me so long.
I know your heart.”
And as that strange linguistic magic died
We sat in quiet harmony
That was enough for our Weegee
And yes, that was enough for me
Jenny Kalahar lives and writes in Indiana in an old schoolhouse that she shares with her husband, Patrick, their cats and a terrier named Weegee. She is the author of two humorous novels about fostering shelter cats in a used bookshop, Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats, and The Find of a Lifetime. Both are for readers aged 13 through adult. Jenny will soon be publishing a collection of her poetry, One Mile North of Normal and Other Poems. Her blog about bookselling with Weegee can be found here.
Photos and poem, Interview With My Dog, © Copyright by Jenny Kalahar. Used with permission.