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“Happiness” by Michael Van Walleghen

15.06.2004 (7:57 pm) – Filed under: Literature ::

From In the Black Window: New and Selected Poems.

© University of Illinois Press

Melvin,
the large collie
who lives in the red house
at the end of my daily run
is happy,
happy to see me
even now,
in February—
a month of low skies
and slowly melting snow.

His yard
has turned almost
entirely to mud—
but so what?

Today,
as if to please me,
he has torn apart
and scattered
everywhere
a yellow plastic bucket
the color of forsythia
or daffodils . . .

And now,
in a transport
of cross-eyed
muddy ecstasy,
he has placed
his filthy two front paws
together
on the top pipe
of his sagging cyclone fence—

drooling a little,
his tail
wagging furiously,
until finally,
as if I were God’s angel himself—

fulgent,
blinding,
aflame
with news of the Resurrection,
I give him a biscuit
instead.

Which is fine with Melvin—
who is wise,
by whole epochs
of evolution,
beyond his years.

Take
what you can get,
that’s his motto . . .

And really,
apropos of bliss,
happiness
and the true rapture,
what saint
could tell us half as much?

Even as he drops
back down
into the cold
dog-shit muck
he’ll have to live in
every day
for weeks on end perhaps
unless it freezes . . .

whining now,
dancing
nervously
as I turn away
again,
to leave him there

the same today
as yesterday—

one of the truly wretched
of this earth
whose happiness
is almost more
than I can bear.

Finally, a poem that makes sense!