“Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
The feline will not speak of it, but canines
Publish a Compleat Lexicon of Ardor
In one-hundred and fifty dog dialects.
The canine iconography of Ardor
Is rich as memento mori: picture
Shep crossing the swollen stream, dog-paddling,
Her master’s damp slippers lightly clenched
Between bright rows of scrimshaw-ready teeth.
Picture a purebred short-haired pointer—Lot’s
Wife looking past Sodom, really, at Gomorrah,
Her right forepaw raised as if to shade that
Dandelion, her muzzle threatening as a gun’s.
The feline do not speak of it, but canine
Cardiology attests to the price
Of Ardor: palpitations in the thorax,
Spikes in respiratory disease, the tail’s
Involuntary side to side motion,
The tongue’s slavish supramandibular
Extension, saliva, sweat, high-pitched squeals.
Ardor sits on pillows, but prefers a lap.
Aptly-named toy dogs do not toy with Ardor.
Ardor books passage on a ship called Beagle,
Bound for the Galapagos to count the spines
On iguanas built out of just-cooled lava.
Ardor crochets the shirt of purple nettles
Then models it. Ardor admires the way
A wine bottle grips a cork. You’ve passed Ardor,
Overheated, on the highway. Ardor’s
Mortar is mixed before she builds her kiln.
Residues left in the hoods of cars
And desk lamps, in the exhausted
Quadriceps of 1600-meter champions,
In the barrels of just-fired handguns,
In wax from a taper, hardening on your fist,
May be the most dangerous forms of Ardor.
Ardor kills for the chance to lie in wait.
Ardor sets the alarm that Ardor is.
Of course you know Ardor’s brother, Regret?
Blind cc’ed on Ardor’s every transmission,
Always invited to everything, Regret
Is always late if he comes at all.
A feline will not speak of Ardor, but sings
Her wordless songs, curls about the object
Of her Ardor, makes bed, scratches, eats, shits,
Vomits, sleeps, purrs. Ask no cat if she burns
Unless you refer to a U.T.I.
She has no word for Ardor, but her nails
Will grow forever, even in her tomb.
Daniel Bosch’s book Crucible was published by Other Press in 2002. His poems have been published in journals such as Poetry, Slate, The Times Literary Supplement, Agni, Berfrois, The New Republic, The Huffington Post, and The Paris Review. In 1998, Daniel was awarded the Boston Review Poetry Prize.