Bucko in Love

The dog had the love, and gnawed it to the marrow,
absorbing it all. It drank love into the roots
of its unthinkable purple skin. There was a sense
of how love softened its ferocity and long tooth;
how it was turned cow-eyed and lugubrious;
how the love it absorbed became something else,
perhaps, a sort of pact, a covenant made
by the three who combed it, brushed it, fed it
and expected it to ingest their need.
Its whiskers wet with droplets of fog,
its wolfhound tongue slipped sideways
over the molars of its ancient grin. It secreted
the want of mother, brother and father
in its sweat-glands. They loved it so much, at times
it seemed the dog would swallow them whole.
It always answered, never spurned their attentions
or doubted it existed for them. It grew
three heads
one for each of them in turn,
and had no head for me. I knew it knew I knew.
I envied the dog for being doglike
and more worthy of love. I drew the saw’s teeth
across its midriff, sprinkled it with hot water
so that it winced and cowered away.
Eating raw meat, acquiring a sense of smell,
trying to think of ways of hoovering in the dirt
and of developing unnatural tastes
at length I tried to become the dog
but it remained itself, looking back at me:
I dreamed its ribs creaked slowly apart
and opened like a gate on the garden.

from The Storm House (Carcanet, 2011), © Tim Liardet 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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