George Kalamaras
Thinking of Bill Porter’s Finding Them Gone, I Wonder How Can it Be that a
Long Life for a Dog is Equivalent to the Depth, in Feet, of a Swamp-Sinking
Each of the old Chinese poets has several graves.
Some hold clothes. Some, bone. Still others
contain traces of evaporated sweat
from their brow. It is true
that I have never buried a hound dog.
Still, I sleep with some of Barney’s ash
at my side. Also on the nightstand
are specks of breath left from winter
frost. How can it be that a long life
for a dog is equivalent to the depth,
in feet, of a swamp-sinking moon?
Something is always eluding my reach,
just out of        breath, as if      what is leaving
is trying to descend a mountain that won’t quit
the moon. The proliferation of graves,
he said, was intended to confound grave
robbers. Okay, what if a hound dog
gets confused by its own death? I think of all
the moments they are as present as wind
leaving a tree. Here today, gone
today, if every moment is now.
How can I possibly be older
than Tu Fu, who sailed up the Milo
toward Pingchiang but left the body
not quite halfway there? He complained