Lisel Mueller

(February 8, 1924)

What The Dog Perhaps Hears - Poem by Lisel Mueller

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.

Comments about What The Dog Perhaps Hears by Lisel Mueller

  • Glen Kappy (1/11/2017 7:48:00 AM)

    What the Dog Perhaps Hears
    refreshing to read this poem with mueller's accessibility, pleasant and quirky imagination (which i relate to) , and her great nouns and verbs and images. it was here in ph i was recently introduced to her poetry, and i followed up by checking from my local library her pulitzer prize-winning book- it's full of good stuff! visually looking at how the poem is rendered here, i wonder if the last line should actually be two lines.

    to keep a poetic conversation going, here's a short poem of mine with similarities to this one:

    Dog sniffs intently
    round a spot of dirt-
    what worlds we don't know!

    glen kappy
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  • Tom Allport (12/17/2016 12:00:00 PM)

    tom allport
    that's the trouble with people they are always to busy to listen? (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (3/18/2016 7:16:00 PM)

    Excellent write! Excellent wit! ! ! Excellent companion for a long empty night. (Report) Reply

  • Abderrahmane Dakir (2/28/2016 8:46:00 AM)

    Nice poem about living with happy dog. Thank you Lisel Mueller for this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Savita Tyagi (5/28/2015 9:45:00 AM)

    After reading the Moon Fishing I just couldn't stop and came to her page for more. This is poetry at best. Thank you for sharing your wonderful poems. (Report) Reply

  • (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

  • (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

  • (9/1/2005 5:37:00 PM)

    In a word: I'm impressed. This is poetry.
    (Report) Reply

  • (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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Read poems about / on: snake, autumn, dog, birth, silence, house, child, home, sun, light, world, change, children, tree

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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