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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 178-179

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Smoushound, and: Midnight


My heart,
this great Italian
plum cockeyed
in its cage, is the heart
of a thief; still,
on the way home, it
starts to rumble and cook
the instant I picture you
on the sofa, tuned in
to nonsense, or reading
about the Dutch
Smoushound, near
extinction since
World War II.

In a splintery
brown boat
forgotten in an
Amsterdam canal,
a Smoushound reclines.
His pale coat takes
on the light of spongy
clouds sopping up sun.
You lean over the oarlocks
to tell him about himself. [End Page 178]


A handful of cornets declared midnight,
unable to wake an old dog
by the palace arch.
They spilled knees, hips, hands
through brass bores and bells, and still
she lay there.

Her father was a Briquet Griffon
Vendeen; she inherited his long
white ears. The yellow cornets
waited for her to drift through the gate; still
she lay on her side, as if all the king's men
crooned only to mend her broken body.

But that was the night she gave over
to space, let the pulley of notes raise her as far
as she could go, and stayed.

That was the night Orion slipped out of the bowl,
leaving only his glittering belt, unbuckled
into an aching arch,
and the slow creaking of planets.

Gretchen Primack's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Field, Tampa Review, Rhino, and Cimarron Review. She lives and teaches in the Hudson Valley.



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pp. 178-179
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