American Life in Poetry: Column 700


"Lie down with dogs and you get up with fleas."Well, lots of dog lovers willingly accept that risk. Tami Haaland served as Montana's fifth poet laureate and she teaches at Montana State at Billings. The following poem is from her book, What Does Not Return, from Lost Horse Press.

Sleeping With the Chihuahua

In the evening she comes to me
like a child ready for bed.
She slips under covers, curls
into my curves or stretches against
my spine. Some have said they fear
I might crush her, but we're a tender
pair, each aware of the warmth
and the other.
I knew a woman once who kept
an orphaned antelope, let it
roam her kitchen, sleep in her bed,
musky scent and hooves.
This dog looks like a small deer,
poised and silent in the lawn,
but at night, she is a dark body, lean
and long against the lavender cotton
of my summer sleeping. We are bone
and bone, muscle and muscle,
and underneath each surface
a quiet and insistent pulse.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Tami Haaland, "Sleeping With the Chihuahua," fromWhat Does Not Return, (Lost Horse Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Tami Haaland and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2021 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.