exercises in control

he calls the dog to



roll over

on the outside table

he orders him to stay
while he walks across
to a bag on a hook
on the wall
extracts a treat and breaks off a small bite
throws it to the dog
for a catch on the fly
and a wide tongue-lolling grin

they shake with the left paw
then the right
to demonstrate how obedience works
with childish glee

a part of the treat
is placed just under the twitching nose
only taken on command
when released
by a word

he pats the pit-dog
big solid thumps
and the dog just smiles
all over

both are happy

she comes to the door
and she’s talking
the dog
seems not to notice
the man does not respond

she keeps talking

he grunts something
just a sound she mustn’t have heard
for she keeps talking

he answers her question
speaking clearly this time
he has learned he may need
to raise his voice

but she keeps talking
about the same thing and the same thing
she keeps saying the same thing
until he shouts
tells her what a fool she is
can she not
be quiet
he can’t hear himself think
and she might drive him crazy
she is silent

for a moment

in a way

but not quite entirely
for now there is sobbing
from just behind his left shoulder

she is sorry
she can’t help it
she didn’t mean to be trouble

he says that’s ok
but she needs to try harder
she repeats herself
she doesn’t listen
she never listens

he says that sometimes he can’t stand it
can’t stand her

then she calms

and asks him a question
follows it with another
on the same theme
makes her own suggestion
about the answer
starts to think out loud

and she asks him
until he holds his head
in both hands
and believes he might cry
he might scream
he might break down a wall
or the fence

he doesn’t dare
let himself speak
the hair
on the back of the dog
rises rough
in the centre
of a line that runs
all the way
from nose to tail

his muzzle gives a slight twitch
and he growls
a low growl
that doesn’t show at all
on the outside
but rolls
like slow thunder

he watches her


for a word

© Frank Prem, 2008


2 thoughts on “exercises in control

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