A Dog Barks in the Distance
The sounds that animals are made to make in picture books:
the sound of a bear talking in its sleep, of a rooster
that only crows in dreams, & the caw of a crow that roosts
in dreams, a crow that is neither black nor white, that's no
color at all except for the color of its voice.
The sound an old horse makes with just its eyes when you ask,
Why the long face? Or the dog you alternately kick
& rescue, in that place your mind goes to when you think
about how the world is full of other living things,
how the world is positively lousy with living things:
the sound that dog makes that frees & condemns in the same woof.
The dog that barks in the distance, the mangy trope that signifies
loneliness, all its illusion & promise (although,
sometimes, it's only there to let you know that nothing is
happening so something can). Everyone hears that dog;
no one's ever seen it. Everyone pictures a different
dog, purebred perhaps, more likely a mutt, the blessed
mutt that redeems with all its fuzziness, its dark eyes
looking up as its nose falls to earth like a shooting star.
That dog's bark, desolate & safe, beyond howl or growl . . .
A courtesy, like the sounds that humans are made to make,
talking in our sleep, clearing our throats to say good morning
to no one.
Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbook Spooky Action at a Distance (The Operating System, 2014); his poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Court Green, Epiphany, Copper Nickel, and Rattle. He is co-editor of the online poetry journal Lyre Lyre and teaches creative writing at Lehman College, City University of New York.