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Lisel Mueller

(February 8, 1924)

What The Dog Perhaps Hears


If an inaudible whistle
blown between our lips
can send him home to us,
then silence is perhaps
the sound of spiders breathing
and roots mining the earth;
it may be asparagus heaving,
headfirst, into the light
and the long brown sound
of cracked cups, when it happens.
We would like to ask the dog
if there is a continuous whir
because the child in the house
keeps growing, if the snake
really stretches full length
without a click and the sun
breaks through clouds without
a decibel of effort,
whether in autumn, when the trees
dry up their wells, there isn't a shudder
too high for us to hear.

What is it like up there
above the shut-off level
of our simple ears?
For us there was no birth cry,
the newborn bird is suddenly here,
the egg broken, the nest alive,
and we heard nothing when the world changed.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Colleen Courtney (5/17/2014 5:51:00 PM)

    Love the way the poets poems causes one to stop and ponder. Always get that aha! Why didn't I ever think of that, but now that you mention it......... (Report) Reply

  • Leslie Audes (12/3/2009 6:11:00 PM)

    Besides all of the 'why didn't i ever think of this? ' moments in this poem - i love how we are led to see beyond the experience of human existence - and be hit with a reminder that how, in some contexts, WE are not the most aware. (Report) Reply

  • Mary Nagy (9/1/2005 2:06:00 PM)

    This is something I truly have never thought about....... I love that! I really enjoy reading something that triggers thoughts that I've never pondered. Thanks for that. sincerely, Mary (Report) Reply

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