Yesterday the dog laid his muzzle
on the rug, one paw on my leg,
his signal for petting, his eyes flat
as my Aunt’s when she sank
in her chair, staring beyond
the window of light
she once reflected.
Today, Zeke bends to one side
as he circles the yard.
He casts no shadow, seeks no shade,
though the sun bears down.
Soon he’s ready to descend,
past the rug’s ladder of light,
where the basement floor absorbs
his heat. Like my Aunt, no position
cushions what grows inside.
All evening, while I prune
spent blossoms, his shrill whine
picks through darkening silence,
rising above the scent of gardenia.
I clip leaves of amaryllis. It is time
to let the bulb rest in the earth.
In winter it will again
be a red heart, radiant
against falling snow.
This is a reprint of work originally published in Potpourri.
Maryfrances Wagner’s books include Salvatore’s Daughter, Light Subtracts Itself, Red Silk (winner of the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence), Dioramas and Pouf. Poems have appeared in New Letters, The Midwest Quarterly, The Laurel Review, Voices in Italian Americana, Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (Penguin Books), Literature Across Cultures (Pearson/Longman), Bearing Witness, The Dream Book: An Anthology of Writings by Italian American Women (winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation), et al. She co-edits the I-70 Review.