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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 6: January 2021
Prose poem: 213 words
By Margaret Dornaus

Birthright

 

My friend tells me about a stray dog she adopted after it jumped her son’s fence when her son was out of town. He was a heeler—the dog—a breed meant to herd cattle, a dog bred for a purpose. Like all heelers, his ancestors were crossed with Outback dingoes for resilience and a touch of the wild. Bright. Energetic. But this dog was old and incontinent and confused and a little blind and maybe even a little deaf. Even so, my friend hopped in her car and drove three hours across the Oklahoma plains to collect the dog, take him home, and set him on a patch of Bermuda in her back yard—not exactly Australia. I suspect he was too old to know the difference. I suspect he didn’t have much collective memory. I’d like to think he was happy. At least that’s what I say to my friend when she tells me how she had to put the dog down when he started nipping at the heels of meter readers and linemen with abandon and grace. As if falling back on some primordial instinct. As if staking his birthright. The way we all must. Against the odds. Despite everything, despite nothing at all. Gratefully. Joyfully. Nipping. Heeling. Turning.

Margaret Dornaus
Issue 6, January 2021

holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas. She recently had the privilege of editing and publishing a pandemic-themed anthology, Behind the Mask: Haiku in the Time of Covid-19, through her small literary press, Singing Moon. The first collection of her own poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prose, received a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America.

Her food and travel articles and her poems appear in national and international anthologies and journals, including publications specializing in Japanese short-form poetry such as: Contemporary Haibun Online; Haibun Today; Journeys 2015: An Anthology of International Haibun; Tanka 2020; The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku (2012-2013); and The Red River Book of Haibun.

Additional work is included in Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems (Dos Gatos), Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way (Village Press), Red Earth Review, and The Texas Poetry Calendar.

 
 
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