Ode to a Dog Howling in the Background of Zoom Class

by Charlotte Hughes

Sometimes I think my whole little world
              revolves around me—
my four walls of paste and foamboard,
              plywood turrets and hollow
molding, all held up by a nail from the eighties.
              Each day a reflection
of the next. The same food—apples pierced
              in the center, white bread, orange
cheese stuck together in the middle. My retriever
              and my poodle, my two
siblings, my breakfast and dinner—food, dogs, family
              as a kind of trinity.
A mostly stable life, kept to itself, neat, clean. But
              O eight-twenty in the morning.
O high school through the airwaves. O
              half of the time
I can’t tell what anyone’s saying over your howling.
              I don’t even know
who you belong to, but you’re always
              there during class, a bit
dumb, barking at the recent memory of a delivery
              driver. Normally, I might be
annoyed by you, just another broken thing, but
              I like to imagine your paws smell
of ladybug wings and pine oil. Your breath
              of dirt, another thing trying
to stay alive. So thank you soundwaves, thank you
              dogs howling at me
from twenty miles away,—yes, you’re grabbing
              my ears and twisting them
inside out, but you remind me that there is an outside
              waiting for me, another dog
to be loved, another apple to be halved, another
              turret to be climbed.