This poem came out of the September 2013 crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a sculpture by Choi Xoo Ang. It also fills the "grief" square in my 8-12-13 card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Diminished Expectations.
WARNING: Although the primary relationship in this poem is enjoyed by both parties, one of them owns the other. There is also protective violence, and a pretty crummy society. If these are sensitive issues for you, think carefully about whether you want to read further.
The first one was made by mistake --
mismatched hands and arms
attached to a handsomely muscled torso,
snug leather pelvis instead of a man's nethers,
trim legs tucked into laced-up feet,
all topped by the head of a Great Dane
with high sharp ears.
Flint had a kind face even so,
tan coat and dark square muzzle,
his brown eyes gentle or fierce
as circumstances required.
The Makery wished him gone
and so one of the supervisors
smuggled him out to give
to her aunt Marigold,
who was recently widowed
and wasting away in grief.
Flint was neither man nor dog,
nothing to remind Marigold
of what she had lost.
He was so strange
that even her grieving brain
could not fit him into any pre-existing script
and therefore had to sit up and take notice.
She watched him
as he washed the dishes
and vacuumed the rug,
picked up sticks and mowed the yard.
He also chased squirrels
and barked at the mailman.
The programming had, perhaps,
gotten a bit mixed in the making.
She did not care.
He was hers,
and he could not die
the way men and dogs died.
Flint was loyal and compassionate
as few of her human friends were,
and she found herself caring
less for their company in comparison.
If people thought her eccentric,
well, she was old and rich --
let them fuss all they wanted,
it was nothing to her.
Marigold knew, before long,
that he was not truly a machine,
that it was not proper for him to be property,
but she was grateful for the legalities all the same
when someone tried to kidnap her for ransom
and he tore out the attacker's throat with his teeth.
The police wanted to take him away,
but she pointed out that he was her possession
just as much as a gun, and that she had
every right to use any object she wanted
in the interest of self-defense,
and wouldn't it look ridiculous
if they tried to put a gun in handcuffs?
So the police grumbled and went away,
leaving the two of them to go home together,
the rich old widow and her faithful guardian.
After that, word got around;
the Makery put in a production line
and the guardians became quite popular.
* * *
Ekphrasis is the use of one art form to inspire another. Ekphrastic poetry often draws on a painting or sculpture. See a lesson about ekphrastic poetry.
"Man's best friend" is an old kenning for "dog." Women often keep dogs for companionship and/or protection.
Cynocephaly comprises many myths and legends about dog-headed beings. Anubis is among the most famous.
The Great Dane is a popular breed of giant dog, gentle and affectionate with family, though often wary of strangers.
Widows tend to experience a long grieving process that affects them and their friends. There are suggestions for widows and supporters to work through that.