Sadie beneath the quilt cast in fun
becomes not my dog, but dog: erased,
reduced, pure form. She hobbles, spins,
twists covers: wrung neck of a sack
she's caught in. Netted, she's anyone's beast,
or--horribly--no one's, and I see
how I depend, insist upon, the most pedestrian
of paradigms: dog/owner. How inadequate.
What am I to her? What is she? Once I attended
a party where the hosts had asked each guest
to bring the dog. As each arrived,
the dogs set loose in the backyard
assessed and reconfigured, a panting whirl, not so much
accommodating individuals as mutating,
boinking into an ever-expanding dog-net that eclipsed
whatever social function we had planned.
How we insist on form. The arbitrary. What
is peopleness? I grapple the tripped
bundle, untangle an edge, light-chink Sadie gulps
and wedges into, wriggling, bright-eyed,
devoted, mine again.
Hank takes his AZT with DDI and says
that he feels fine, except for the neuropathy
and bouts of diarrhea. Theo says the side
effects are unacceptable, refuses meds
and opts instead for hypnotherapy and herbs.
Luisa says the problem is nutrition: no one
eats the way they should. Craig says it's attitude
as much as anything, but Bob says Craig is smug
because he has a job and health insurance, plus
the fact that Ron, his lover, is a specialist--
Jimmy's losing weight and can't remember things.
Anna's baby isn't coming home. Alex wants
someone to tell him how combining AZT
and 3TC makes AZT work better, if
he's shown resistance to the AZT before?
Pauline thinks it's best to start with D4T
& DDI, hold the other combo in reserve,
but Mason says that protease inhibitors
are going to be the answer: Forget T4 counts;
they're meaningless, and monitor your viral load.
Gilberto starts to cry. Margaret digs for kleenex.
We know for sure that monotherapy's a joke,
says Mason. Combination, two, or better, three--
Alex sputters: This is nuts! Every month the things
we know "for sure" get changed! --So give it your
says Craig. --So help him pay for it, you prick,
And Pauline says she doesn't care to hear that kind
of talk, and won't be back. Luisa looks around:
Has anyone seen David? Jimmy coughs, lifts
a bony hand. Was I. . . supposed to watch him?
THE CENTAUR EATING WINDSHIELD GLASS
Munches reflectively in blue coplight stammer,
tongue dripping. Like swallowing
your own teeth, a mouthful. His whitened eyes
separate: independent beams
grazing first the birthday cake
mashed in its flattened box, then, thrown
across the floorboards, you. You blink
The centaur is a cop
with the body of a deer:
giraffe legs that crumpled instantly
and heaved the rolling weight into the windshield's
collapsing hammock. Another cop asks
can you move? The first sweeps fractured glass
into his glove, appears to offer
a handful to the stag's blackened muzzle.
Ron Mohring's chapbook, Amateur Grief, was selected
by Maureen Seaton
for the 1998 Frank O'Hara Award. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in
Artful Dodge, Gettysburg Review, Green Mountains Review,
and North Dakota Quarterly, among other journals. He is currently working
on an intertextual project--a Poets' Quilt--and will guest-edit the spring 2000
issue of Blithe House Quarterly with fiction writer Daniel M. Jaffe.
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