Not on the Rug


By Bill Ayres

On the wall of my kitchen,
above my cocker spaniel’s bowl,

is a calendar made for both of us,
with seven dog years

moving parallel to a human one.

In her first month, called Chew Toy,
I never saw her glance at the picture

of the red and green fire plug,
nor did she look at the tree trunk

during Taut Leash. Not even at the photo
depicting the Festival of Bones.

Many walks were taken,
most of them in the rain,

with her returning to shake off water
onto my hardwood floor,

before a paw print appeared in the square
for Howl, a week before its celebration.

The special days for mailmen, for cats, for fleas,
in those blocks can’t exactly be holidays, can they?

Look: here Independence Day
is called the Night of Dread.

See where nose marks began to moisten the pages.

Which of us started to growl more?
To bark? To beg?  Now it is me who’s more likely

To leap through a door left open
on a sunny day, and run

until my tongue hangs out.
On the first day of Ankle Bite,
the smell of honeysuckle woke me.

On the last day of Tight Collar,
I found myself scratching my ear with my foot.


Bill Ayres will always be a student at the Muse Writers Center. His work has appeared in Plainsongs, The Windhover, Page & Spine, Commonweal, and The Hollins Critic. What he thought was a million-dollar business idea turned out to be a poem. The cocker spaniel's name is Buffy.

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