First Love
Julien Longo

When my parents bring the dog home
I have been waiting all my life,
eight years of wagging my tail,
licking feet,
hot breath on my mother’s hand
and begging bowls of milk.
I have become his perfect litter mate,
lying on the floor
smelling his powder breath,
telling him, nose to nose,
that we are made for each other.
He rolls over on his back,
belly protruding around his ribs,
smooth skin fitting
the inside curve of my hand like a ball,
his breath throwing it up and down,
my palm catching it
until we are sleeping, spooned, in our den.
My mother carries me to bed while my hands twitch for him.
I can hear him in the kitchen
making noises, he calls my puppy name
in perfect puppy tones
that only he and I decode.
Next day it is he and I against the two leggeds of the world,
the chair sitting, fun stopping, rulers of our lives.
We scratch our backs on their table legs, chew their shoes,
tug of war with socks and bras,
eternal solidarity in the wet earth
we scrape beneath our paws
turning in space at sounds,
birds, cars, doors slamming, his new body
making mine new.
We howled that night when they carried me to bed
for we knew what all puppies did; we couldn’t be separated.
Our love was a bone
in our bodies
that would break.
My mother moved his bed
and in the morning found us both
curled up, wagging our tails.

 

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