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Prairie Schooner 79.4 (2005) 132-134

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Solid Ground, and: Party Animal

Solid Ground

A fish leaps out of the tank;
suddenly it's a race with time

but I'm a little girl with pounding heart
and inadequate instruction: always
wet your hands before you touch a fish [End Page 132]

so I say an anxious prayer and take my
place in the desperate struggle of muscle.

I do it: return him to safety.
I should be proud, but I'm not.
It should be over, but it isn't.

The little bastard swims off
as if it never happened;
doesn't even thank God
that I wasn't the cat

and my heart speeds into morning
needing someone to shout at

but I'm alone with what I dream;
alone with the impulse to freedom.

I wash away what slippery fear I can,
but it's never enough; I'll be called again.

The capricious eye will remake
this journey to the perilous rim.

Party Animal

At my next party,
I'll wear a dress and look
like me, but inside, I'll be a dog. [End Page 133]

On the sofa with guests, sly
beast that I am, they'll never
suspect I'm there for the food
and turned-on by their smells.

I'll look into their eyes and nod
like I care; flash that big toothy
grin they seem to adore;

breeze right through
the movie reviews,
politics and dirty jokes.

I'll be the happiest one in the room,
as long as there's cake.

Gloria Parker is an author and illustrator of children's books. These are her first published poems.



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pp. 132-134
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