Rebecca Starks

Wasted Wish


With time I've come to value the commands
I never thought to give, for things you did
quite well, but never at the times we wanted:
Relax, for when I couldn't take you out
right then; or Bark, by which you'd come to know
its quiet opposite; Stand, to let a vet
manipulate your hips; and Watch, to hold your gaze,
portal of the mind, open to our cues.
I learned from watching trainers at the zoo
that what my dad forbade as "tricks" are tricks
on those who don't suspect their purpose: Shake
no clowning circus act but a feint by which
a man draws a thorn from a lion's paw, unharmed.
When you limped I wished I'd never taught you Heel.