Mary Crockett Hill

Prodigal Dog

My chihuahua left me for some woman in Vinton.
She took the bus across town. It wasn’t a dream


like when you’re on the bus naked or on the bus drunk
or there’s a woman beside you crocheting the face of your mother.
Spice was happy on the bus, her whole body wagged.


I put an ad in the paper, called the Saturday Swap Shop on WFIR.
I tacked up fliers with a xeroxed photograph of my lost dog cantering through a field,
tongue flopping out in an obscene angle like some burlesque wing.


I emphasized that Spice was not dangerous. That she would sit
if you told her to sit. I emphasized Reward.


My other dog was faithful. She tried to comfort me
by explaining our relative nearness, our nearness of source—
how we’re all ultimately born out of stars:
ourselves, rubber bones, the half-chewed cricket on the carpet,
the husband, the food bowl, the food in the food bowl,
the leash, rabbits, the car.


That’s where matter comes from, Sandy crooned,
her nose wet on my cheek, stardust.


That night we watched on CNN new photographs
of a distant nebula’s emerging stars. People all over America
called in to say they saw the face of Jesus.
Jesus, and assorted barnyard animals, and Gene Shalit.


“Seven thousand light years away,” the commentator said, “Gene Shalit.”

Mary Crockett Hill
“Prodigal Dog” appeared in River Styx, No. 54, and If You Return Home with Food (Bluestem Press, 1999).