The Escape Artist

By | 3 February 2024

for Bear | inspired by Bronwyn Lovell

What goes through your ticking toy-machine mind
as you burrow beneath our shitty
rental fence the landlords will never fix? What are you
trying to achieve with this? I zip-tie
chicken wire, plonk cinder blocks
like I’m building the Great Wall
to cut off your impossible escape
routes but you still Harry Houdini your way
out of this straightjacket (I hope this isn’t
a straightjacket). Is it a game?
Or are you itching to come find me? I get home
one day to discover you on the sidewalk.
You run up to me, tail wagging
as ever. I like to think a smile passes
over your face as you think, Good job!
You found me! We try again
and I can’t help but cheer when I hop the fence
and you look so confused, cocking
your head like a barn owl when you can’t squeeze
through to join me, applauding nothing.
I know you love me, so why do you poke holes
in our life? Is it a digging instinct baked
into your DNA from some distant,
untamed past spent rolling in the dirt?
I read this poem aloud to you while you’re asleep
on your back, legs surfing the air, and I wonder if you dream of secret
portals to other dimensions. I want to know if you’re happy
but also need to keep you safe. I never want to come home to a house
that doesn’t have you in it, so I fill the gaps and fortify the defences
against the unknown — a dog’s free will
(I hope this is the last time I find you
smiling up at me from the nature strip).

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