Tricia had a great poetry stretch this week – love letters to the world. You can read all the results people posted over here. I was inspired by thinking of some of the pets I had had, dogs and horses, and this is what I came up with. Laura Salas has the Poetry Friday round-up this week.

Four-legged Love

Gyppy wasn’t mine
but I loved that dog
because Poppa did
loved that tail-less rump
that wiggled an alarm each night at five
when Poppa came home from work.
loved the way
he buried pancakes with fish heads
loved the way
he saved them for rainy days
when they had rotted just enough
to be doggie-delicious.

Lisa was mine
but I smothered her
with a child’s first love
so she loved my mother best
refused my bed
for my mother’s pillow
refused my treats my touch my love
waiting at the window
for my mother
or Poppa or the mailman
anyone but me to appear.

Lady wasn’t mine
but I loved that horse
her sleek black mane
her dainty hooves
the way she tugged a carrot from my pocket
the closest to a horse of my own
I thought I would ever get
until the day she threw me partway off her back
enough to catch my foot in her stirrup
dragging me for near a mile before
tossing me free to roll
down the hill in the rain
my eyes filled with mud
until I thought I was blind
crying in the ambulance
crying for that horse
who was too much horse for me.

Sparky was mine
but I never loved that horse
never wanted that ugly Roman-nosed horse
never wanted him as much as I wanted
the idea of a horse that was mine, all mine
and he was
until the day we collided with the car
on Clayton road
until the day
they put 127 stitches in his back
until the day
he moved on
to belong to someone else
who had time enough to wait
for him to heal.

I made Boo mine
when I saw his matted fur
from months of neglect
tied out on a short chain
away from anyone who loved him
and when he let me comb him out
licking my fingers in thanks
I took him home to a safe place
with me
with love enough to overcome anything
I thought
but Boo was the only dog
who ever scared me
when he stole that turkey carcass from the sink
refused to back away
from my little boy, my son, inching closer
to pet Boo’s face
and Boo growling
as I turned the corner
and me screaming
as I swooped down
to grab my little boy, my son
before Boo
could grab him first.

Ceasar wasn’t mine
but I loved that German Shepherd
loved the way
he caught steel-belted tires mid-air
without ever letting them touch the ground
loved the way he caught a tennis ball
again and again and again
until I couldn’t bear to touch the soggy, slobbery mess
one more time but I always did
because I loved that dog.
He guarded babies
who sat on the edge of his tire
with his nose not quite touching them
waiting patiently for someone to pick up the baby
so he could pick up his tire
for another game of catch.

Baron was supposed to be mine
but he was his own dog
belonging to no one
and to everyone
except for me.
Neighborhood kids knocked on the door
asking if Baron could come out to play
and I would watch from inside
watch that beautiful dog
go from child to child
with his ball in his mouth
and his tail slicing the air
his body arching with each jump
filled with joy
and I wished
oh how I wished
I could play too.

Dakota was mine
and oh I loved that horse
loved his looks
loved his speed
loved that nice long quarter-horse pedigree
too bad I couldn’t
stay on his back long enough
to make him love me in return.

Sheikh was mine
the horse of my heart that found me
late in his life
late in my life
and let me live out those little girl dreams
of a horse who followed me everywhere
and loved me as much as I loved him
and went I went away
he loved my little girl, my daughter
and made her dreams come true too.

There have been other
four-legged lovers
other dogs
a cat
some birds
a rat
I miss them all
even those who couldn’t
love me back
except, of course,
for Boo.

© 2009 Susan Taylor Brown, all rights reserved