Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A small dog considers being rubbed

Just in time for National Poetry Day, which is tomorrow, the 26th August, 2016. A poem written some while ago...

A small dog considers being rubbed

Oh, I can be rubbed until the
veritable cows come home,
those large dociles not of my
own ancestry.

I can lie on my back while you
massage my tummy
(infantile word)
as though I had no organs inside
excepting one organ, a
heart already pulsating
fast, pulsating
faster at every stroke of
your rough hand.

I can have my ears mangled and tangled
around my head as though my
brain barely knew anything beyond the
scratching and rubbing, though
if the need arose, alert
would be my first instinct ˗
if I could choose between
alert and rubbing.

I can have that monstrosity of a
tail, that appendage which is in
reality a curled sausage,
one found after being
left the pantry too long,
that hanger-on covered in
fine fur flailing, a
peacock’s tail, though of course it
lacks some degree of iridescence; I
can, as I say, have it flicked and
fluttered by you without

It is your touch I crave, not
respectability, not honour, not
pride in the self that I am through
God’s own design; I acquire such a
deep intensity through your touch that
all I am as Dog is affirmed.

Food I can fast from; walks can wait
(though not indefinitely);
sleep is pleasant but never the
ultimate necessity. There is only one
necessity: that when I sit snuggled beside you,
or lean my chin on your knee, or
push my head between your shins
like those aforesaid cows calmed before any
possible storm by heads enclosed in a
padded containment; or stand on your
lap, front paws on your chest where the
beat pulsates at a rate
slower, heavier, than mine,
snout to nose, greatly tempted to
lick you, the necessity is
only to be stroked.

Sweep my fur back to front,
I will love you.
Clean gunk around my eyes,
I’ll love you.
Thrust me in a bath and wash my bum,
I’ll love you.
Take me frantic to the Vet’s,
I will love you,
Perhaps that’s putting
something too
fine of a point on it:
I will love you

if you rub me. 

The reference to the dog pushing his head between my shins and its connections to cows comes from Temple Grandin's research into cattle behaviour, where cows were made less stressed by being put into a device called a squeeze chute. At least that's how I remember it from the movie where Grandin used a smaller version of this to calm herself during anxiety attacks. 

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