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De'an

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Dogs so long with us we forget
that wolves allowed as how
they might be tamed and sprang up
all over the globe, with all humans,
all at once, like a good idea.
 
So we tamed our own hearts.
Leashed them or sent them to camp’s edge.
Even the shrinks once agreed, in dreams
our dogs are our deepest selves.
 
Ur Dog, a Siberian, dogged
the heels of nomads,
then turned south to Egypt
to keep Pharaoh safe.
 
Seemed strange, my mother sighed,
when finally we got a hound,
. . . a house without a dog.
 
Her world never knew
a yard un-dogged and thus
unlocked. Sudden intrusions
impossible where yappers yap.
 
Or maybe she objected
to empty armchairs,
rooms too quiet
without the beat
of tail thump or paw thud.
 
N’de, Ojibwe say, my pet,
which also suggests ode, that spot in the chest,
the part you point to when you pray,
or say with great feeling—great meaning,
meaning dog-love goes that deep.
 

Heid E. Erdrich, "De’an" from National Monuments. Copyright © 2008 by Heid E. Erdrich. Reprinted by permission of Michigan State University Press.
Source: National Monuments (Michigan State University Press, 2008)
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De'an

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