Friday, February 11, 2022

The Dog by Robin Coste Lewis

The Dog

       Matthew Henson’s Penultimate Expedition
       Before Discovering the North Pole
Eating her did not feel immoral. 
Inside our efforts to maintain 
our lives, our affection
had remained consistent. 
On every occasion, whenever a man ran 
or died (which they did—often)
she would stand and howl 
at the winds, the atrocious boulders 
heaving through the air all around us. 
Even as we watched yet another friend fall—
struck in the head—she would stand 
between my knees and hiss and growl 
at the burning red clouds, 
the white electric water.
And now we were in a dreadful condition,
beginning to turn mad, but I know 
if I had died first, she’d have stood over me 
and never considered what I began to consider 
daily. Runt and cur, she outlived the whole crew—
all of them: beasts and men. And then finally, when,
for over a week, we had not seen one bear 
or seal or even a blade of something beige 
(and there was nothing left of my clothes 
we could eat and still survive) one completely
sunless morning, when the pale, clear seal
oil had diminished into a single flame, she merely sat still 
beneath my blade and did not flinch, but 
looked up—into me—the way a mother 
sometimes steals a secret glance into her child: 
resigned to its preposterous morality. 

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