- Darwin’s Dog
He had been absent from them just five years and
three days. He went out to speak to his dog, wondering
whether it would have forgotten him altogether. . . .—Charles Darwin, by Geoffrey West
October, the year was shedding its wings, its gardens their blossoms, every scarlet fading to rose. He loved riding past the villages and the treble voices of children still asleep in their beds, the coal fires blooming in dark rooms all the way east from Falmouth and no one noticed, not the fat man beside him in the night coach, how beautiful the hills of England! Every blade of grass the only blade of grass. The blue slated roofs and gray spires, gales still whispering in chimneys, rippling fields and branches nodding along roads, the lakes filled with leaves. A gate swinging wide and a door creaking open stained by the touch of hands—and behind it his sisters, his nurse, his father, news of Erasmus and notes from cousins, a hive of excitement, and the stable hands already stumbling toward evening's celebration, the servant girls still dreaming of silk. He was home. Absence, seeing the world had straightened his curves, left him thinner, his father's unbelieving hands lifted in surprise to see the shape of his head quite altered. And his dog, when he called it out for a walk, only sniffed his hand as if nothing had changed. Everything waiting like a clock ticking [End Page 45] down a still hall, the linens white, his father's instruments shining in their drawers. Pages turning endlessly, so inexplicably eternal in his hands as he walked wearing every moment, drifting into it like a warm bed on a winter night, its eyes filled with recognition.
Brent Pallas lives and works in New York City as an illustrator and craft/home project designer for magazines. His poetry has appeared in the Southern Review, 2RV, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry, Gettysburg Review, the New England Review and other journals.