Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Shadowless Shadow

The Great Matriarch says: There is a dog who barks at his own shadow, which is not there, for in mid-day sun, there is no shadow.

Notice, if I give him a dumpling or a chew-toy, he stops barking, but he does not stop when he sees his shadowless shadow. He barks with warning, with alarm.

He barks louder and louder, snapping his jaws, swallowing sputum, on his haunches, ready to pounce.

He is afraid of what is not there. Like you, Mei Ling, when you wake up, gasping for breath, thinking you might die, that ICE agents will come with a choke-chain.

Poor dear, he wants to protect us from the unseen, the unexpected, the unknowable. This is very bad luck in the neighborhood, to constantly hear the harbinger of doom.

Should we, then, euthanize him, put him out of his misery? To prophesy destruction is to invite bad omens, to stare into the abyss.

Or should we calm him, caress him, give him shelter?

Let’s call him by his birth name and take away his power. Let’s shout, “Hashtag, No Collusion, Gunboat, Death Star, Apocalypse, Mara, Cerberus, Beelzebub!”

Let’s call him, “The one who understands vacuity.”

Let’s not fear him, but love him, offer the pink leash, for he is your dog and he is mine.

Credit


Copyright © Marilyn Chin. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. The author of five poetry collections, she currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 1926-02-02

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/shadowless-shadow