Thursday, July 21, 2005



I'm late, need to pay, but he's ahead of me,
ordering ice cream for his dog. No chocolate.
The waitress suggests vanilla with just a tiny bit of fudge.
No chocolate, he says again. The exchange goes on like this
for a long time. Finally they settle on strawberry.

Now he wants a coffee, one sugar, no milk so he'll have
something to drink while the dog's eating. The bill
comes to three dollars. He empties a pocket,
gliding quarter after quarter across the counter,
savoring the slow slide of each cool coin.

By now, I'm so late there's no chance I'll get to where
I thought I was supposed to be so I give up and ask
What kind of dog? He takes his time in turning
to answer, Pit Bull. A leashless pause.
And part Borzoi. A rescue. Her first trip downtown.

I wanted to get her something special so she'd know
it's safe among strangers. He's in his sixties
and handsome in the way that distant mountains
seem both beautiful and private. Now, late
is starting to feel like right on time. Grateful, I stop

outside to watch him drink, with such pleasure,
hot coffee in ninety degree weather. Gently,
he leans over to steady the paper cup of ice cream
for his dog, Lucky. Her tail's tucked between her legs
and I see in the way she looks up

that in her life before this there was never
the smallest pleasure without punishment.
She's afraid anyone, even the man holding the cup,
might start kicking her again. Except it all
tastes so rich and sweet and cool that she can't help

but give herself to the goodness of it with the almost
unbearable joy the abandoned feel when someone
kind finally turns to them, sees them,
really sees them and says, You. It's you
I have been waiting for all this time.

Mekeel McBride
UNH Professor of English
From Dog Star Delicatessen; New and Selected Poems
due out in 2006

I was going to write more but ... well, I'm not. Poem courtesy of Chili.


  1. Kizz, is this yours? It's beautiful. It should be on display at the Met. Such wonderful visuals! I smell the New Yorker. Steve Martin!
    Ya Ya Honey!

  2. No, no. I was sent it by a friend. I read it and immediately thought it took place in NYC but the poet is from NH so I think it probably happened in a very particular dairy bar in Durham, NH.