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The Dog

Zoë Ryder White

It’s realistic fiction. It’s set in Brooklyn. First person, April 12. It starts with a mondegreen originating from a song that will be written soon, maybe in two weeks, or four. It’s this: I keep mistaking the ornithologist for the ophthalmologist - the one the tales are told about; the bone-setter. The one who loves tango. Oh, eyes, not birds, I say to N. Birds, not eyes,she says back, which completes this particular agreeable exchange. There is a patch of sod in the canyon where we keep throwing the black dog’s red bone. The black dog searches N.’s face every evening from 5 to 7:30 pm. Barks once or twice, waits, searches. The city birds zip between yards; they don’t know that the yards are owned or that the fences are partitions. From here, I can see into the partitioned canyon. N’s husband has limed the sod. Soon it will be green all over. Soon is when the song will be finished, the one about birds and eyes. Sitting around the table with the neighbors, the children, we all look at each other. But I, for one, am not consciously aware of eyes– the way mine fit inside my head, the way the others’ fit inside theirs. At 8:30, the black dog takes my forearm gently between her teeth; she does not bite down. That moment lasts for the rest of the book.

Zoë Ryder White’s poems have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Salamander, Thrush, Plume, Sixth Finch, Guesthouse, and Threepenny Review, among others. Her chapbook, HYPERSPACE, was the editors’ choice pick for the Verse Tomaž Šalamun Prize in 2020 and is available from Factory Hollow Press. She co-authored a chapbook, A Study in Spring, with Nicole Callihan. Elsewhere, their most recent collaboration, won the Sixth Finch chapbook competition in 2019. A former elementary school teacher, she edits books for educators about the craft of teaching.

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