A White Dog (further city poems)

[Found in a box–from last fall, i think.)

I lived in the city a long time
I had a small white dog I carried under one arm

which, on closer inspection,
was never a dog
& not quite white

nonetheless I carried it.

I had a key ring with only three keys.
Even in a city you don’t need more than this
if you are careful, limited
willing to wait.

You forget things,
living long enough.

I suppose I might have had a dog
or might have often walked behind
a man who did—
a little dog with stained fur
he carried
while I wished without reason for it to be a sweater.

Love is cheap in the city
but will cause you to
acquire, uncritically.

The woman in 1A
had a ring of keys heavy as bowling ball.
She used to have one of those, too.
She’d set it on the floor
while she flicked through the circle, looking.

Morning or night,
she stood her doorside vigil with furrowed brow
fingering the teeth, skipping those in colored bands.
It took so long.

I didn’t struggle to get home.

Only wondered what doors belonged to those keys,
how many of them she really needed to open.

I had just one.
Two, if you counted the gate that hung on its hinge
hadn’t closed right in years.

In fact, that gate was another version of the city.

The third key
was not a key
at all.

The third key could not be changed.
And still: could not be thrown away.

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