Sounds gather in the dusk.

His head goes up in askance at a tone

I cannot hear. He sniffs, and I wonder

if there’s some alien creature close

that I can neither smell nor know to fear.


I scratch him then. His look is like a laugh.

I ask, if we have the necessity of ears

why are they not large, and floppy,

like my dog’s? Something we did wrong?

Some moral error

which left us with these useless lobes,

the requirement for a trumpet’s horn

to make out the subtleties of a cricket’s call,

those neighbors’ altercations, though dulled

by walls, or that hapless music

of the distant spheres?


Perhaps that’s the reason we have dogs,

to hear for us

those calls we would otherwise have missed,

the dangers of sound and smell.

At conference, full of fervor, we reviewed

neuronal numbers in dogs and people,

discernments as a perfume’s delight,

meat’s decay, the capabilities of a middle ear.

And all in all our canine companions have us beat,

qualities for which we have

but a questionable smile

and the gift of tongues instead of barks

to compensate.