Some time later

The mother dog licks the puppies’ arses.
They all crowd in together nudging for teats.
Later they will roll and play. They’ll bite each other 
and lick the insides of each other’s mouths. 
They will curl up together to sleep. When they are older they will 
do all that, and more, with completely unrelated dogs. 

I will tell my grandchildren that there was a time 
when complete strangers would shake each other’s hands, 
how friends would hug and greet with a kiss, sometimes on the lips. 
The grandchildren will look at me as if I was mad. 
‘Granny’s off again,’ they’ll think. 

Of course, they also won’t believe me 
when I say we had homes for old people. 
‘What do you mean?’ they’ll say, and I’ll tell them 
how for a few generations it wasn’t unusual 
to live past eighty, and they will look at me as if I am mad. 

They won’t believe that when sports people won a game
they threw themselves on each other in glee. 
I wonder if they’ll understand glee. 

I’ll tell them how people were so careless that 
there were islands of plastic floating in the oceans, 
how we were so wasteful that we bought more food 
than we could eat, that we threw out clothes 
after only wearing them a few times. 
‘Some people had whole rooms with 
nothing else in them but shoes.’ I’ll say.

They won’t believe me, but even while they think I’m mad, 
they’ll say, ‘I’m glad I can hug you, Granny,’ 
and we’ll hug and watch the mother dog lick 
the puppies’ faces after she is finished licking up their shit.


7 thoughts on “Some time later

  1. Many lessons learnt when watching mother dogs teaching their puppies over my years as a dog breeder. Tough love works, and mother is always correct, because mother’s milk is the best reward, and ignorant or wilful pups miss out.

  2. Thanks Belinda: you strike the perfect tone with this poem and the use of disbelief is powerful. I hope it won’t transpire like that. Can physical proximity be unlearned from one generation to the next? I think it is too powerful a compulsion in us to be tempered for very long. Witness the incredible difficulty so many people are having maintaining ‘social distance’. Can we really overcome the magnetic force that draws us toward one another? If there isn’t the physical affection and interaction I think there will be a great yearning for it…

    1. Oh, I think you’re right. I expect people eventually will be touching and hugging again. I certainly hope so. I do think it is likely that over time, the numbers of young and old could change. And I expect we will continue to hand wash. That could make colds and flues less common and/or more virulent. There are so many possibilities, but I do think it is here to stay. Sadly.

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