Ulysses' Dog, Argus, Remembers What It Was Like to Be the Only One to Recognize Him upon His Return.
Because a hound dog, old, in a pile of cow manure, with fleas.
Because a hound dog, dead for more than 2,000 years, remains alive
in dust particles of thought. In the drumbeat
below deck, prodding the oars. In the rowing chemistry of love
in the ninety-ninth leg of a centipede. Because we push ourselves
here, then there, one back-break at a time
until we arrive, achingly, at the place where oceans meet.
Because I came to him when no one else would.
animal body recognized his
Because in smelling him, I smelled myself.
And I knew that what had been lost could always return,
even if it was gone, yet found in that leaving.
Because in the vortex where water collides we recall
the taste of our own urine--how drinking it yet again
cleanses it one more time before it is finally released.
Because the plants need to drink. Because the air
needs to drink. Because the water lily-yes--also
requires something upon which to float.
Aegean-strong of song. My hound dog body--though
seemingly dead--buoyed, now,
all the way from Ithaca in the rise and fall
of the rib cage of the dog asleep on your own sofa.
In the shadow darkening the dark.
The shady places from which the shades
speak with words bit
from light. The tender places you call home.
needs a dog. And a past.
And the odyssey of moving here to there.
Back, always, to here
and a dead voice, alive, from across the river.
To feel the living
depth of the dead. Because he knew me,
and I knew him. Even in disguise.
My Ulysses cloaked as a beggar.
The grape-pulp scent of his feet. The odor
of burning he carried all the way from Troy.
And the scent of that knowing was enough.
enough. Even amidst the fleas
biting my body. And the bewitching voices,
in air, of leaves. And our animal bodies
strapped against the call.
Dog body. Man body. The body in between.
And all those beard years at sea.