I like to live in comfort and feel foreign
so I’m most at home when I sojourn in Spain
as a tourist with few language skills to lean on.
A man with a plastic bag clasped in his hand
picks up the dog-doo that his pet puts down.
He puffs his cheeks, the man does, then he gazes
at La Monde in the Spanish edition till his wife comes out
of the Boutique de la Prensa and it’s time
to look for lunch and maybe wash his hands.
The man helped, carried, the
down the two steps
and put him down
on the carpet
of the poetry and philosophy
where he fell over
and lay on his side,
the old terrier
I became hysterical
but the attendants,
concentrating on noticing
changes in demeanour,
did not remark this
and left me reading
in books of foreign poems
about everyday things
by being noted down
and he, the man, set
the old terrier up
The wind brings back the barking of dead dogs.
I hear among them yips of childhood friends
And their snarls as they protected us from threats
In woods now cut and on country roads now paved.
I watch the wind’s work shaping grass and trees
Into silhouettes of dogs known: pointy ears
And cold noses. It is strange how one supposes
These fleeting vivid images are not real.
© Alan Reynolds, 2012