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.