In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Three Poems
  • Tess Gallagher (bio)

Blind Dog / Seeing Girl

She travels by guess and by mistakes she corrects by going back the wrong way, bumping sometimes painfully into things with her whole face like houses and tree trunks and door jambs. She can’t get there

except by correction, extending her chin against the stairs as if they were the stars, to caress each oncoming cement ledge. If she didn’t venture and get it wrong and eventually right she’d be at a standstill, marooned out there under the apple trees or hemlock. Don’t

carry her, says the girl to herself, you’ll mix her up in there in her dark-finding where she’s collecting mistakes and self-forgiveness, making good on excited passages where it seems each turnabout yields a fresh chance at getting back to the girl. And what is the girl

for? To clap her hands helplessly over and over and chant “This way! This way!” and because the dog is also deaf [End Page 119] as well as blind, the girl is there to follow her to her neighbor’s porch where the dog scratches to be let in. The girl is there to explain and to apologize: “She’s blind, she’s deaf,” and in quiet defeat to snap the lead on the dog’s collar and lead her home where in relative safety she releases her again into her lostness from which the dog must design a freedom-map among the galaxies of blind orbits, brailled edges, and comets of the moment.

Even the girl knows in her sighted witnessing: we are each lost, and beholden to the other until, with deer-like tentative stepping, each invisible threshold yields, and still calling in her useless voice, the girl forfeits all notion of possessing the zigzagged way her blind, deaf dog at last hazards herself into her waiting arms. And isn’t it joy the dog expresses as the world dissolves into just that moment she has magically united with her very own missing girl.

One Deer at Dusk

The hummingbirds are still fumbling the feeder with occasional dive-bombing to show each other how easy it is to slip a tongue into sweetness while others are fighting for priorities—who sips first or longest or who can sit pensive without sipping at all. They know nothing [End Page 120] about deer with their magnetic noses trained to the young tips of roses. Yet their tongue-sheath beak would challenge this one fiercely if they caught it mawing the blossoms of honeysuckle.

The stealth-step of the deer seems wishing not to tear the fabric of the easing down of night, like shadow entering shadow. And dusk, which allows us to gaze across the boundary of night’s oncoming dream of possessing us entirely, has enabled the deer, in its shuttlecock moment,

to let us watch ourselves as a soft muzzle caress and take teeth to what we’ve never tasted, then be ourselves consumed, as if night’s unsheathed all over talisman of where we came from had entered us while a deer and hummingbirds occupied what must have been the night-nest of one mind choosing not to close until each step of the barely visible deer has blended with the last whirr of hummingbird, vanished.

While I Was Away

the piano—nothing better to do— slipped out of key. A dull clump breaks the tune where one note, like a diving board bounced out of spring by ten-year-olds, vacated [End Page 121] entirely. Cut me some slack, all you things I did perfectly well without! We’ve been over this before, the last time I hyphenated our continuum. The slack air brims with sulky impenetrable remorse. It’s more than time-travel to re-enter all this ‘wasn’t here’ as if it were one’s very own next dimension: ‘whatever happened to so-and-so?’ it taunts, until you answer, sotto voice like Betty Davis pulling a loaded pistol from the sleeve of her mink coat, “I’m back.” Then rug to chair, that muffled inward: “So what!”—the welcome you prefer. [End Page 122]