Black Dog

John Stammers

From the interior night of the unconscionably tall, arched doorway,
the shadows commence a faint unnerving undulation;
they wear an awful sheen, as if the shade has been interminably brushed
after being treated in some scenty new conditioner.
The aperture takes on shape: the hard sway of a long, high neck,
and the absurd tiny slope of what, in another creature,
might have been its shoulders.
                   Black Dog,
some animal trader’s corrupt attempt at a half-understood Swahili term;
his name is inked into him like a torturer’s signature mark.
The single specimen ever found, a male giraffe
black as the whitest sunlight, blacker
than the white crocuses in the ornamental flower-beds,
or the ultra-white of the open-eyed woman’s white crêpe blouse.
It is merely a matter of waiting and everything happens:
the chimpanzees write Titus Andronicus on their toy typewriters;
the sea-lions bring down a gazelle;
the eels walk on two legs to the north gate and go home.
I feel a sensation of overwhelming disgust.
I make myself turn and leave the side of the enclosure.