by Alice Malin
Daily you polished their flanks
smooth and narrow as organ pipes,
whistled into the salty shanks
that strained through your hands
like mist, grey air.
They wrote themselves nightly
onto the courses, the supple notes
of new songs – no pauses – while smoking
in the empty enclosure you hummed
old hymns, and ash
shone on the floor round your feet.
The twists of paper
in your pockets not betting slips
but prayers. Only the dogs knew
that it was for you they strived
to hone their lithe bodies
to nibs, needle-points, air –
you, who, singing,
sponged their quivering backs
and against whom
they became slack and calm
as in the van back to the kennels
you sang Thy coolness and Thy balm,
the dogs dreaming
of making marks on the tracks
like semi-quavers launching into flight
from their score, like a glimpse
into the muscular soaring
of the evermore.
#1 by jennifer walmsley on May 14, 2012 - 8:14 am
A wonderful poem. Beautiful descriptions of man, dog and the place. Loved those last 4 lines.