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Local Poets, Local Inspiration

Santa Cruz poet Ellen Bass ruminates on a near miss in this month's installment of locally inspired poetry.

Lost Dog

It's just getting dark, fog drifting in,
damp grasses fragrant with anise and mint,
and though I call his name
until my voice cracks,
there's no faint tinkling
of tag against collar, no sleek
black silhouette with tall ears rushing
toward me through the wild radish.

  As it turns out, he's trotted home,
tracing the route of his trusty urine.

Now he sprawls on the deep red rug, not dead,
not stolen by a car on West Cliff Drive.

  Every time I look at him, the wide head
resting on outstretched paws,
joy does another lap around the racetrack
of my heart. Even in sleep
when I turn over to ease my bad hip,
I'm suffused with contentment.

  If I could lose him like this every day
I'd be the happiest woman alive.

--Ellen Bass, from Mules of Love (BOA Editions, 2002)

Ellen Bass's poetry books include 'The Human Line' (Copper Canyon Press, 2007) and 'Mules of Love' (BOA Editions, 2002). Her poems have been published in many journals including the Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic, The Progressive and American Poetry Review. She teaches in the MFA poetry program at Pacific University and locally in Santa Cruz;

'Local Poets, Local Inspiration' is edited by Robert Sward. It appears in the first issue of each month.

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