‘I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick
to come to the top.’

—John Keats

It woke me just this morning, nose pushed
to my sleepy cheek, breath shuttling
down my cool neck: my faithful black dog.
His tail clubbed me all shades of violet.
The sun disc-sawed me in half.

He follows me to the kitchen.
Here he comes, his canine shape
gleaming like polished jet. I stoop
over my coffee, hiss at him to go.
My mouth lands on his drooping ear
but the silly dog is deaf;
his dumb tongue a huge slab,
searching my hand like a rodent.
When milk won’t do, he loves the sting of salt.
He nuzzles the lid of my eye.

Wherever I go, he follows.
At office desks, restaurant booths,
hunched in the seat of a taxi,
my faithful dog sniffs out my bones.
When lovers come, he turns possessive.
I wriggle free from their fingers,
stop them kissing the sides of my jaw.
They leave when I talk to the papered wall
and tell them the guard dog is snarling.
I grieve when their footsteps have died.

I go to bed at odd hours
to watch the small pulse of blue time.
When sleep stands me up for the zero moon,
the dog strikes me down with his paw.