“The world exists through the understanding of dogs” – Friedrich Nietzsche your average greyhound sprawls, elegantly out of it, tongue caged or lolling between teeth – unless organic chicken is on offer in the kitchen, or ears need fondling. stuck like glue, he’s ‘there for you’ as much as chicken. you read him, too, touch base, entwine your lives the neighbour’s marauding cat is up a tree or hissing like a gremlin on the pergola, but greys won’t deign to notice. sighthounds anchored to the horizontal, they’re not about to pine for things aloft – too much bother. ever the realist, they won’t make eye contact even when the cat’s on pause above them, grimacing, eyes big and saucer-shaped as an owl’s startled by light but on the ground, old instincts kicking in, a sudden flight of feline scrambling among fallen leaves will do it: your fireside companion – placid mien and ‘peace, man’ ways – is all pursuit, pounces with a gaping jaw, keen to rend to scraps any feline’s grand delusions something of a cat-dog himself, he’ll let you know it’s not his business to actually guard your place, or warn you of strangers. dog-tired is his invention – he’s cultivated fifty ways of lying doggo – but if thunder calls or smoke alarms go off you’ll find him heading for the exit greyhounds don’t pontificate, they’re too intent on kicking up quintessences of dust in some quiet corner of the yard. The racetrack’s a distant memory, the muzzle de-commissioned, that former life remembered only when a cat presumes to bask in your backyard, or on comatose nights when memory shakes a threadbare tail and thumps its mad pursuit of something unattainable it’s then your longboi whimpers in his sleep, dreaming maybe of bones thrown carelessly among his fellows in the kennels, or that half-life in a cage, hauled up by the collar to race, the diminishing pack yanked out and dispensed with, unprofitable. a winner on the track, he’s one of the lucky ones not shipped abroad to race his last, re-packaged as meat, or shovelled into a mass grave all that’s in the past. this fellow couch-potato, this nose-worker, smooth talker without words, eyes that grapple you to his soul – he’s learnt your ways already, knows them all, like you know his, angling down the hall at bedtime like a sage parent who grasps better than you do when to sleep, and how long, alert to your constant visions and re-visions, padding patiently beside you while you drift from room to room, this balm in stressful times, this quiet presence, bond-brother, leaning in
Louise Wakeling’s fourth poetry collection, Off limits, was published in July, 2021 (Puncher & Wattmann). Her recent poetry has appeared in Contemporary Australian Poetry (2017), Live Encounters (2018), Mountain Secrets (2019), Wild Voices (2019), Burrow 2020), and Messages from the Embers (2020). She is currently working on a novel exploring power dynamics within the family and in Australian society in the 1950s-70s.