Expat Magazine

Moments In The Life of a Dog

By Lisawines @omyword
Moments In The Life of a Dog Above, on the table, red wine stains the faded Provençal cloth
1957 is hand-written on a small label at the neck of a deep-green bottle
Nothing else but dust, a few cobwebs, keep company with the label
Its wine had been offered respectfully by our host, the winemaker
In honor of his grandfather's vintage
On this last day of the wine harvest
The remains of a farmer's lunch litter the table
The hand-made bread is gone, but crumbs stick like evidence
In the last gob of butter on a tarnished vintage knife
Sardine skeletons are piled high upon pushed-aside plates
Not a morsel of garden-fresh salad is left in a wooden bowl
Wine glasses hold nothing but lees from long ago
The bearded winemaker regales us with stories in French
Gesturing & smiling, a wicked sparkle in his eye
And everyone laughs; even me, who doesn't understand
His wife's foot, in a cast, rests on a chair
Her eyes are weary from a week of cooking for thirty people
A Mona Lisa smile on her face, she watches him, amused but wise
She knows he isn't always this adorable
Her crutches fall with a clatter to the red-tiled floor
Her son, the one who wants nothing to do with winemaking
Dutifully retrieves them for her
We laugh at another of his father's jokes
Logs pop and glow in the stone fireplace
The smell of autumn floats through the open kitchen door
Mixing with smoke and sweat and grilled fish
The last of the harvesters drift in and out, saying their goodbyes
Mostly young people, with dreadlocks and gypsy clothes
Hands stained after a week of grape picking
Feet stained after a naked plunge into the giant crushing vat
Heads aching after last night's end-of-harvest celebration
New lovers, former lovers, some jilted right in the vines
And a British man, his Moroccan wife, their two young sons
Their busy black dog
For some reason, the dog picks me to be his playmate
He must know that I need something to do (or that I'm a sucker)
We're both foreigners; but he's not at all concerned about that
While everyone above the table speaks a language neither of us understands
Under the table, he nudges me for attention
His golden eyes are not so much pleading; but enticing
He gingerly places a golden tennis ball into my crotch
Pushes it towards me with his nose, to make his point
And sits down, patiently awaiting my toss
I pretend to ignore him; he pretends to ignore me
I move my hand towards the ball; his ears go into full alert
I move my hand back; he yawns; can't fool me
Lightening swift, I grab the ball and girl-throw it
Just missing a dreadlocked head, a sun hat, the crutches
Out the door like a shot, the dog scrambles
And returns moments later, thrilled from the chase and capture
He drops the ball into my crotch again
Saliva bubbles and mud tarnish the once-golden orb
A piece of hay hangs from the dog's mouth as he pants
Everyone laughs at something, but not me, not the dog
We're in our own under-table world
Playing our own below-board game
One that ends when the British man and his Moroccan wife and their two young sons
Kiss the last cheeks goodbye and call for their dog
Without a dog-thought, he leaves the ball; a messy forgotten toy
With no dog-regrets, he abandons me; a temporary co-conspirator
I remember him still.
But by now, he has a new toy; a new toy-tossing friend
It was all so important, for a few moments
The harvesting
The fecundity of love in the vines
The stories of harvests past
The hangovers
The taste of 1957 wine
The life of the man who made it
The life of the grandson who maintains the family trade
The dreams of the great grandson who wants to be an architect
The golden ball flying out the door
This poem was also featured on Third Sunday Blog Carnival.

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