Anna Karenina

The inquisitive look on the dog’s face
makes me happy, suggesting not only her intelligence
but my own, for having such an intelligent dog
in the first place. Although what it is
she wonders about I do not know. Seated in my chair,

a book in my lap, I looked up and there she was,
regarding me, as though she wondered
what this book from the library, so redolent
of others like myself, might offer me
that she herself could not. But now she seems

less inquisitive than wry, as though the compendium
of sense I find my way through, she, via the scents
only she is capable of apprehending, knows. Perhaps
someone shed a tear on a page I am yet to reach,
someone freshly washed, although the robe

she wore was not and gave traces of someone else,
someone she, the weeping woman, also sensed
in its folds, which the dog reads just as I read
the words, which at this point in the volume
are not the sort anyone would cry over.

Do you want out? I ask her, and walk to the door
and open it, but she only looks up at me,
less inquisitive or wry than perplexed now,
and I begin to understand we’ll never understand
each other. Even when I sit on the floor

and call her to me, she seems uncertain
but allows me to stroke her head and neck
and soothe her, as she also soothes me,
although soon I rise and go back to the book,
each of us, in our own way, unhappy.

Robert Wrigley has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Beautiful Country (Penguin, 2010). His poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Atlantic, Barrow Street, and The New Yorker, and were included in the 2003 and 2006 editions of Best American Poetry. Wrigley’s honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho State Commission on the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as a Poets’ Prize, Kingsley Tufts Award, J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine, the Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Theodore Roethke Award from Poetry Northwest, and six Pushcart Prizes. From 1987 until 1988 he served as the state of Idaho’s writer-in-residence.