One by one, the dogs of the neighborhood
alert us as the paperboy makes his rounds.
His journey down the sidewalk can be closely measured
by the chorus of the guardians’ distinctive sounds.

Fifi the poodle is a coloratura;
Max the Weimaraner has a thundering bass;
Oliver the setter croons a mellow baritone—
a credit, so he thinks, to the canine race.

Our own mutt, Suba, has a rich contralto
which she adds to the proceedings with savage glee.
What she lacks in diction she makes up in volume,
contributing her talents to the symphony.

Descended from the wolf or descended from the jackal,
the animals we harbor to defend our homes
warn us of invaders with fierce determination,
making sure we know where the paperboy roams.

The rhythm of the dogs weaves a complex counterpoint,
the theme and variations echo down the block.
It’s really very clever–you’d think they’d rehearsed it:
a fugue in the manner of J. S. Barch.

©1991 Dorothy Miller Gutenkauf

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