Mary Makofske: “Guard Dog”


Impossible to see what armed guards

survey past the high walls. Forbidden

to ask or ponder what they watch for,

their faces always turned outward, blind

to the life within. From houses a clatter

of dishes, scent of roasting meat.

In gardens, flowers tremble with bees.

At a fountain a young woman trails

her fingers through water as if to read

the future, while a young man traces

the curve of her arm. In this courtyard

a dog the size of a pony passes,

its huge head swaying as it prowls

the perimeter, trained by a buried fence

and electric collar to hug the wall. Yellow

eyes, white teeth that wink beneath its lip,

it never strays from the path it wears

to a shallow ditch, though its glance darts

to children who know without being

told they should not approach it.

After a while the children no longer

freeze and look up to see it pass. The dog

has become invisible as the fence.

Mary Makofske’s latest books are World Enough, and Time (Kelsay, 2017) and Traction (Ashland, 2011), winner of the Richard Snyder Award. Her poems have appeared previously in Valparaiso Poetry Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, Spillway, Poetry East, Antiphon, and other journals, plus nineteen anthologies. In 2017, she received Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Prize and the New Millennium Poetry Prize.

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