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Dog Star
Could the passions of a moment have such awesome power to subvert destiny? Novelised biography of Mary Cole, 5th Countess of Berkeley.


(Not mine. Had to get permission from Himself to post this. Being taxed my last biscuit. At least Jack is half-spaniel and knows he's the source of the inspiration.)

(Poem After Robert Browning)

That's my last canine pictured on the wall
looking as if he were alive. I call
that piece no blunder, now
A Canon Powershot and sleight of hand
captured his mischief and there he stands
Do sit awhile and be amused
I said this camera by design, for none
saw Maximilian - Max for short - composed
and would have missed him altogether,
his rump fast disappearing in the rearguard
of a hundred miles an hour tornado,
had it not been for A1 technology
and the patience of a saintly spouse
Perhaps Di chanced to pat a seat and say
Come, sit with me on your part of the sofa
and harken while I spin tall tales of your begetting

His tail would wag; he loved a tale,
the rhythm lulling silky, pendent ears,
adjusting the helter-skelter of his heart
to gentler pace, his dark eyes bright
with immemorial knowledge
of spells woven by camp fires at twilight,
the day's work ably done, aroma of rabbit
run to earth, now sweating in a stockpot,
pheasant plucked of feathers, fit for hanging
(his, sadly, didn't work, so why should theirs?)
Max was of noble Spanish pedigree, she'd say,
his sire and dam a coupling from the gods,
embellishing her yarn with arcane words
like 'perambulation' and 'peregrination'
that rang vague bells, and words like 'stroll'
he knew had to do with new-mown grass
He'd listen, rapt to be the epicentre of Creation
There now, she'd croon. Keep still. Good boy! Click!
The flash would spark spontaneous momentum
and anguished squeals at apperception vanished,
nowhere the source of light found and rounded up
But Good boy meant rusks and rawhide treats
and that magic word which, once articulated,
bound the speaker on pain of mayhem: Walkies!



Elizabeth Barrett with Mr Browning's rival, Flush, who was kidnapped and ransomed more than once!  (Watercolour by one of her brothers.)