Transcript (dog walk)

Eileen Myles

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38: Do You Read Me?


A dog shakes her way on a leash up a path and now she is gone. We see the empty path now with the wiggly hurricane fence coming up on the right and a green clump of bush frogged by lighter green leaves and below it all across in the dirt where paths and slopes meet but it’s light. Light meets everything and it’s where the color goes. It’s what’s left when it’s gone.

The dog is pooping now and it’s rude of us to watch the dog and the arched all fours of her state. The video is grainy so it’s hard to see detail, but we see the troubled look on her face: this is mine, so go away. Her tail uplifted is black, its tip is white.

Almost out of politeness the camera bounces and soon it is bouncing away. White and tan straw is surging like fireworks. The walk is melting away in the jangling camera work. And soon we’re on the path again and a common dark grey rock is as prominent and seductive as a jewel or a breast. We see dark green bushes and then we’re at the gate of the park. The dog stands in profile. Trees block her head. Her tail’s in the air, her shadow falls right next to her. Her entrance, her area is covered in light and the grass is bright green almost yellow and all that came before, the bushes and the way have cast an enormous shadow like the path we’ve just left and the past which is always gone.

The dog’s sniffy and we take this as an opportunity to look up: the trees of the park and the enormous possibility of day. We’re close on the dog, just her legs and her hind parts now. And then she’s further from us, turning left, her head slightly bowed (with age), her back sloped, and she drags her dark leash between her legs. The leash reminds us she is a reckless untrained and impetuous dog who does what she wants. She’s freely moving, sniffing and walking slow but it’s all one kind of jangle, like a rolling awkward dance, and we look up again to see the whole park. The houses and the hills looking down, the tall whitish trees and the explosion of green for smaller ones furthest away so the layered natural world holds us in this place. We examine the park in a circle like this is a crime. Everything is smoky and dusty which is another thing light does on a hot day when everything appears like mist.

It breaks for a moment and the shadows of the trees on the bright green grass look like a spidery hand. Puffy trees bob behind the houses, the whole complex of telephone poles and wires the houses just arched and arched and now the dog crawls past a couple of skinny trees and she dunks her head. She’s found a bit of food. Looks like a big clump of chicken, she’s eating it business-like like old people do; looking up for a moment her white face gazing. Suddenly a big mottled tree is jumping around. Flaying we see an aqua painted picnic table and we’re high on the delirium of shadows paint pot wild splashy dark grey no green like it’s lace all over the grass—tree to grass to tree to grass we’re bobbing finally landing on the stolid innocence of the stone picnic table framed in the valley of sun in the partially shrouded park. This is her throne room and she is either dog or day. We’re forced to look at that table again after prowling away for a moment. The older trees are speckled flecks of grey, a grey brown. And higher up what we call limbs tentacles and the full mushy cascade of leaves and some hazy stuff something dead. We go up and up and the browner and bluer and skinnier the tree goes it seems to darken in the pale blue sky. And single strands wave and flare out like, well, hair, or first I thought of a cat’s stray whiskers the unruly ones but these are heading for the sun. Then there’s nothing but blue a box of it and back to the fence. Where’s the dog. We’re examining the beige real estate behind the chain-link fence, evidently thinking about them and what they’ve got. Not even a walk. They live at the park.

We get her close now. In her animal print collar. We’re right on her dipping head, the rippling muscles behind her ear, the loose hair of the older dog. It’s her view: a flash of pink tongue and a lot of grass, soon there’s only grass a crew-cut, and it’s black and yellow and white you can see the grade, by the sunlight and shadows flashing off-on as she, a waving tail and a beige butt and those loopy legs are negotiating an excited run on a good day and she circles the tree itself; it’s ringed, its color and depth. For a moment you can see the marked slope of her back, its weakness but quickly cause why not she’s dipping into a female pee, an entire existence is making the letter, a mailman’s granddaughter she is.

She smiles because she’s happy galloping off jaw slack and the slopes of the park are a sea its variety enabling her watery legs to dance—with her rear legs getting a pass as the front does all the work and her ears in the air. The mottled tree blocks her and a surging carpet of grass fills the rectangle now cause we’re walking along following the dog I think.

Eileen Myles is the author of 18 collections of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; most recently The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art (2009) and Inferno: a poet’s novel (2010). “Transcript (dog walk)” is an excerpt from her forthcoming dog memoir Afterglow.