While Walking to the Beach the Crazy Dog Lady Meets a Pit Bull Named Betty Marion White [poem] by Renee Ashley

One block from the ocean the dog lady catches an unwavering scent & sights the sweet decided  switching of a young man bearded & shuttered behind dark glasses What he is hiding from Not his dog who’s hooked to a leash as thin as a filament of duck down The wind is a bitch & cold Has teeth & claws She didn’t think to pack a coat & though she’s anxious to tread barefoot on the icy sand to grind dead skin from her heels she’ll postpone that bitter pleasure for the better one: she’ll touch the dog How different every dog How fine This one’s a barrel a cask a butt of wine with scars where the tips & sides of her ears should be What the dog has left behind besides those ears Her collar—long enough to wrap the big man’s thigh—is pink & dainty This dog could break away by simply walking She never will She’s been saved She’s golden Bathed & cherished she’s now accustomed to her place beside this man & the dog lady gets it Boredom notwithstanding Indebtedness often wears the look of love & living spotlessly & free to leave works well so far She’s away from home herself Another ocean town & short-term untidy room A bag of books some clothes a sack of heavy bread some too-ripe fruit Some yogurt on the windowsill She’s dodging some new torment she can’t name or an old one once again Betty’s fur is short & coarse but sweetly soft She’s been conditioned Her old & many scars anointed with good salve Her muzzle’s warm & resting in the woman’s hand who could speak her name for hours But the man’s got his eye on the diner sign ahead Hot coffee a buttered roll He gets restless He’s cold He wants to go & Betty White goes with him She is adored Adored again & then she’s gone & at the end of a slackened leash that can’t possibly hope to hold her she’s aglow

 

Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem put us in mind of the Winter Getaway.]

 Image by Steph Skardal via Flickr Creative Commons

Renée Ashley is the author of five volumes of poetry, two chapbooks, and a novel, as well as numerous essays and reviews. Her awards include a Pushcart Prize, a Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence, an American Literary Review Poetry Prize, The Robert Watson Literary Prize in Poetry from Greensboro Review, a Black Warrior Review Poetry Award, the Chelsea Poetry Award, and the Robert H. Winner Award and the Ruth Lake Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has received fellowships in both poetry and prose from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts. A portion of her poem “First Book of the Moon” is etched in marble in Penn Station Terminal in Manhattan, part of a permanent installation by Larry Kirkland. Read more at http://reneeashleyatwork.com/.

 

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