Our Saisy never really shook off that early abuse,
the beatings, starvation, the two-foot chain.
She’d wince when you went to pet her,
snap if you rubbed her head for too long.
As her rescue “foster mom” in Statesboro put it,
“That gal’s got her some food issues.”
Like stealing bread and hiding pieces ‘round the house,
gobbling down the rankest roadside carcass, knocking over
garbage cans, consuming their rotten whatever.
Afterwards, her Stygian, Technicolor diarrhea
would ruin our rugs.
Yet the rescuer’s daughter named her Joy
for that dervish dance when you’d grab a leash.
She’d rear and buck like a bronco, jump, hump her back,
swivel in a circle, smile like a very happy cartoon dog.
And what a beauty! that black slick fur, the brown undercoat,
distinctive of one of her breeds, the German Longhaired Pointer part.
On the beach or through the woods to the dock she’d strut,
a country beauty proud of her charms.
Indifferent to birds and squirrels, she hated cats,
despised UPS trucks. Her frantic bark was acquainted
with the dark — PTSD the vet once guessed.
That morning there would be no dance. She had died
in her sleep, and lay there on the rug peacefully unaware,
her eyes closed. She didn’t look dead, was barely cold,
but her teeth were clenched: no more biting, eating,
romping, barking, being. She hadn’t seemed sick,
was playful during her very last walk twelve hours ago.
To her it probably wouldn’t matter much, the vacancy
we feel when we return from work or a trip.
I can still see her, though, at the top of the stairs,
beginning that dance, nodding her head, smiling,
humping her back, clicking her nails on the wooden floor.