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ISSUE:  Spring 1996
When Gracie’s in season she howls at ambulances;
there are plenty of dogs around, but she wants
an emergency vehicle. And who can blame her—
such flashy lights are sure to mean a dynamo,
that sound must prove a passion equal to her own.
And skeptical as she is of police and their leash laws,
firemen and their scrawny treed cats, she wants

a lover without handcuffs on his belt, who isn’t there
to put the fire out. She’s such a dear seductress:
straight-backed in her chair by the window,
brow furrowed, listening to that first lonely call.
She seems surprised by her response—
a noise she thinks she’s never made before, that she perfects
to replicate exactly her desired object’s cry.
If I laugh, she turns around perplexed; I’ve interrupted.
I must be careful not to spoil the mood.
Tonight the sexy truck is coming right to us.
Gracie, beside herself at first, attracts the crowd’s attention,
crooning while the ambulance approaches—
back and forth the lovesong lifts and falls.
Pulling up, the beast goes quiet in the driveway
of a neighbor’s house. Gracie watches,
her sad brown face washed over and again in blue and red.


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