Led from her address, signature ears aloft,

conforming tail flopping forward all a-fluff,

cascading like her pantaloons and ruff—

the papillon in the park emits a bark so soft,

it’s strange to see this toy retains the urge

to charge at squirrels and chase them up the trees.

But look, her genes express themselves: Freeze . . .

Stare . . . step . . . pause . . . then rush to purge

the pigeons from the plaza—her ribbons, hand-knit

sweater, and sparkling collar all be damned.

What weighs against her breed, her pedigree

a strain of science, but nature (what’s left of it),

while the leash hangs slack in a gentle hand.

“Come back.” Her Mother calls: “Come back to me.”

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 33 Number 9, on page 35
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