The Sadness of Animals
Surely we imagine the sadness of animals:
the hangdog dog in the piazza less likely
in mourning for a late selfish mistress
than concerned who will look to his dish,
or at his age whether sex is history.
And the saddled stallion's faraway eyes
are not seeking that track through the hills
to rampant savannah where, carefree,
his sisters cavort in cabals. He can just see
(and then vaguely) the roofs of the stables.
But once off Waisai and its soft-coral reef
a gloomy medusa, draped purple and pink
on the current as if tossed on a chair-back,
loomed over us, barely in motion.
For that instant, though we knew it a
rubbery insensate processor of plankton,
it assumed all the sorrows of the ocean,
in a glassy precipitation of grief.
I swear that the tears fogged our masks.
This morning the colt jumped the whitewashed
rail. And the dog? Oh, the dog still mopes
in the piazza – who can say if he weeps?
from The Sadness of Animals (Canterbury: San Marco Press, 2012).