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.”
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 33 Number 9, on page 35
Copyright © 2019 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com