A hound can speak with its ears, love with its eyes, see with its nose.
When did she arrive in the world? In what Alabama barn, born
one in a sprawl of damp pups, licked clean by a lean bitch’s tongue?
My daughter, my sons! No tiger stripes showing yet, just balls of light
and dark fur, and a sweet odor of new life and hay and dust. She drinks.
Blind for now, she paints a picture from the lull of cows, the yakking crows,
the discussion of her mother’s heart and boney tail brooming lost corn
across the barn floor. The tapestry of scent weaves in her mind – milk, dung,
and the spring breeze that penetrates every board, a cold clear birthright
that all hounds share: this kaleidoscope fracturing of all that stinks.
Somewhere in the dark genetic code, a command to tree, to chase flows
in her very bones. The puppy fur now inked with brindle bands should warn
us that this Plott travels in disguise. Even now, against the hay, her young
form blends into a world of line; you might not see her pack, until in flight –
attack aborted when the old cow whirls to face the coursing high jinx.
Only she knows the history of the path from barn to this. The terror shows
in her tail wrapped tight to her thigh. Does the hound have time to mourn
the loss of pack, of pride, of coon calling and the chase? Of songs sung
as dark mist rose over the warm fields, and her mother nudged good night
to each tiger head? Name and number listed, she sits behind bars and blinks.
Too bright. The hound cannot see beyond the reek of fear and piss. Neon glows
eternal – what is night without the thin rake of insect song? Darkness torn
to shreds, like the spatter print of her, one by one her senses fail; she’s flung
into despair. Her ears lose voice, her eyes kindness, her nose vision. This acolyte
slinks into the farthest corner, but here the stripes fail – naked, she shrinks.