Dog Days - Poem by michael hogan
No way of being lasts. Even the dog’s life
changes as we watch.
This evening, annoyed puppies nipping
(playful younger versions of her serious self)
she cut short her walk in the eucalyptus-lined park
and returned home quite on her own.
Sometimes watching this speeded-up version of our life
we can hardly bear it. When was it she began making
decisions like this? When was it we no longer said,
“Bad dog! ” but nodding understood
we were witness to something in ourselves which also changed?
That this was our life we observed:
each walk in the park like the ghost of the one before it
each thing we do now cumulative fragments of who we were
when we were becoming who we are.
We fit the pieces of our lives together in a pattern
but there is no image on the puzzle box to guide us
other than the person we thought we’d be
when we were living elsewhere.
Car sirens shriek on the hill above our house.
Motorbikes clatter by with pizzas;
car speakers vibrate basso profundo, rattle the windows.
No one is silent any more.
Will any of this shorten our time in purgatory?
All my life I have looked for meaning
in the stories I read and those
I told myself and the children
believing God was in the details.
Now I suspect I may have mistaken narrative for philosophy.
Maybe stories are not about people
but about life, an addiction like the rest of them
which destroys you even as you love it
but you love it anyway and can never get enough.
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