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Unconditional Love

Barry Dempster
From:   Fire and Brimstone. Montreal : Empyreal Press, 1997


Undeniable love. Shaking me
by the cuff in a drooling embrace,
wrapping my resistance
in an endless tail. Squirms me
to the rug, a flash of fur,
boy becoming beast, sprouting whiskers
from behind my ear, cold nose
in my cupped palms. Picture
homo sentimentalien and mutt.
Her tongue making territory of my body.

Almost heredity, this doggy love.
Dad and his Airedale
crossing childhood at a trot.
A great-uncle and his even Greater Dane
sharing slippers for 20 twilight years.
Cousin Helen with a Pomeranian
grinning from her black patent purse.

Who else but a dog showed me
how to hug, letting my arms go
messy, my kneecaps and navel and chin
all joining in an electric shock?
Who else could make a compliment
out of a bare belly? Canine kisses
taught me true affection, a
stray unselfconsciousness.

Are there dogs in heaven? I asked
my mother, an elastic band
squeezing my heart into
an upstairs/downstairs shape.
No souls is what she said. A dog
is nothing but an instant, here and
gone. I imagined God
all spine and loneliness, naked
as a bar of soap.

When I go, my dog will go with me.
We'll race past those staunch
pearly gates, to the Happy Hunting
Ground, the Other Side, the Abyss, whatever
it's really called. I'd rather grow
a tail than a pair of stiff wings.
An eternity of unconditional love, that
cold-nosed, no-soul beast.



Barry Dempster's works copyright © to the author.


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