The Pet, Walter Deverall, 1852. Oil on canvas.
She stands in a doorway, on the threshold
between home and garden, peers inside
a bird cage. Yet another type of enclosure.
It is no wonder they love their captor—
well fed and doted upon, the canary is full of melody,
the dog lazily snuffles at your feet. No cares gnawing
at the bone. All kindness and kisses.
So you think.
___________Protection has its costs.
Birds flounder in sorrow. Wings clipped,
they feel for the hand reaching in as one feels toward
a punishing god. Yes, they are pampered, given teeny
treats, fed daily morsels until docile and blithely paunch.
The dog, taught to beg for affection, must always
be pleasing. If it disobeys, the hand that now lovingly
strokes the ear’s soft cushion of fur, will strike
quick as lightening. Pain pulsing
through its skull, the high pitched yelps, its nose
rubbed into the mess it made.