Dogs pray, too
Cats, not so much,
dogs, staggering and sniffing,
searching and sauntering often pray for a sign
to stave off lost cities, hunt for food,
a friend to follow, sniff the phantasm sex,
but mostly dogs pray for their lost selves,
the wolves they once were, with fierce teeth
pitchy, gloss coats, leaders of the wild,
commanding respect from their pack,
hunting among elk, bears and cougars,
now the dog lives as a trophy,
allowing a master to teach him to fetch,
arm candy, lap necklace, all references
to his past glory vanished,
he prays to be reborn as predator and potentate,
resting in the shade of the high plains,
alert to his environs
never tamed by another species.
Turtles are content with meditation,
still as stones, they don’t mind being last;
bees have their own hierarchy;
the queen prays for offspring in honeycomb hexagons;
the drones just follow orders.
Humans are more like dogs;
they howl at the moon, wander aimlessly, follow
the scent of patchouli, a highway sign or lucky number,
in a fast car to Mecca, not seeing love that stands in the road.
Like the dog, humans remember a time when they were hunched over,
running free, long in tooth and hair, muscular and sweaty,
living in packs, grooming their mates, eating fruit and wild grasses,
never another’s slave, bowing to a time clock, wearing a clown suit,
all the earth to roam, no fences, no boundaries, no therapy.
So yes, like dogs, humans pray for something to fill their bellies,
make them wag their tail and jump up to catch a falling star.
Humans growl and tear at your flesh,
we want attention, we want to be soothed with a touch and a treat,
we are impatient and yip and yap to get our desires;
sometimes we just want to roll on the ground and other times
drink sloe gin to forget who we are;
it is at these low times when prayer calms like a river,
we breathe, sit up or stand to get a grip on our place
in the universe, notice our shiny coat and the loved ones around us,
express gratitude for the morning sky and the water in our dishes,
sniff our connection to time, earth and nature,
lick each other clean, sleep next to each other’s heartbeat.
Lee Schwartz is a New York and Berkshire based poet. Her latest work appears in TRANS BODIES, TRANS SELVES, 2014, Oxford Press. Also being released, Poetry Saved My Life by Trigger Point Press and On Fire, Bard College, where many of her poems appear. Lee has been a winner of the Paterson Literary Review Prize. She has served as an Artist in Residence at the 92nd St. Y in New York City, as well as participating in the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers.
Photo: Ales Krivec