Bird, Dog

Consciousness stirred, tickling like horsehair
or fur, reeking like heaped-up shit, waking
my ass up (I think). I couldn’t leave a palm’s
impression or a footprint, I could tell you that much.
My eyes stung. My nose said, Oh, the stink;
disinfectant, please.
Where were the larks at
daybreak, my marigolds, the Sound of Music?
Hadn’t I just floated into a choir of colors, Raphaelite-
bright? Wasn’t I supposed to go, as Colette
said, where one does not age? At 67, hadn’t
I said fuck you to Paget’s disease, clogged arteries,
diapers, baby wipes, the b.s. of a Last Will?
I felt like I was wrestling turfs of hair. And what
was whirling over me, chasing itself, stinging
like leather? A gray tail, spiked with lice?
Mus musculus? I took off. Past moldy Wonder
Bread crumbs, orange rinds, a coffee thermos.
I knocked over cameras, boots, crystal figurines—
angels, that baby Jesus. The house owner,
angrier than any Rorschach blot I ever saw,
was chasing me. Left, right, right. I went in
and out of a doll’s museum. I circled squares
of glue, breezed past wire snap-traps. Could
I outrun the devil? The dog? By 10 o’clock
(unable to nose I’M A MAN on any keyboard),
I became a dustball in a crawlspace. Did that
till the fragrance of bars of Dove led me to
peach glass tiles, pastel towels. My Interstate
180 was a broomstick, my amethyst birthstone
was the toilet seat. I saw daylilies, my piano
keys, Cos d’Estournel ’82. If I did the wisest
thing (an axial twisting dive), maybe I could
ante up to advantage. I let out a curdling Thy-
Will-Be-Done wail. Air bubbles and slivers
of black spittle shot out of me as if I were
a smokestack. Maybe I’d go nowhere. Or fly
perpetually … bird, dog, chimpanzee, Man?

—Isaac Black