American Life in Poetry: Column 515

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Dogs are smart enough to get people to take care of them, a skill that a lot of people haven’t learned, but they’re still wild at the heart. Paul S. Piper lives in Washington.

Dog and Snow

Dog sees white. Arctic
light, the bright buzz in the brain

of pure crystal adrenaline. In a flash
he is out the door and across the street

looking for snowshoe hares, caribou, cats.
His wild ancestry ignited, Dog plunges

his nose into snow up to his eyes. He sees
his dreams. Master yells from the front porch

but Dog can’t hear him. Dog hears nothing
except the roar of the wind across the tundra, the ancient

existential cry of wolves, pure, devastating, hungry.
Time for crunchies. Taking many detours, Dog

returns to the porch. Let master think what he
wants. Freedom comes at a price.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Paul S. Piper from his most recent book of poems, Dogs and Other Poems, (Bird Dog Publishing, 2011). Poem reprinted by permission of Paul S. Piper and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.