Academic journal article Field

The Commands

Academic journal article Field

The Commands

Article excerpt

The child taught the dog stay

by staying herself, in the dark garden,

and the dog imitated her.

The child taught the dog fetch

by pushing a twig with her nose.

She taught the dog come

by appearing out of the pines

(there were only two pines

and she had to bribe the dog

with a biscuit not to follow her).

She taught the dog heel.

Always there had been a gap

like a missing tooth, just out of reach,

and now apparently it was the dog

with his ropy ears, quirky itches,

and faintly hopeless grin.

She taught adore me and don't die.

The dog listened, head cocked,

but his square nose swiveled

to watch a firefly stitching

in and out of leaf shadow.

Immediately it was twilight

and a voice called dinner.

The child taught voice

and you must obey.

By now the dog was bored

and trotted away, perhaps hoping

to dig up a dead vole

out of the system of tunnels

that undermined those dusty peonies. …

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