Maggie Smith
The Village Dogs

I have heard of places where

dogs leave their homes one by one

in the morning and meet up in the streets.

They lie together in the park, freckled


bellies warming in the sun, then leave

for the butcher’s, for alley-scraps

of ham, chorizo, a bit of blood

sausage they needn’t even beg for.


The butcher carves with village dogs

in mind. They come daily for the salt

of cured meats. I wonder if they lap

the savory sea air, too, the way


the silver-bearded black Lab

of my childhood licked the halo

of cigarette smoke from around

my mother, as if to help us see her.


I have heard of places where

dogs roam free—no dogcatchers,

no meddling neighbors. I hesitate

to call their ritual togetherness family,


but what is family? At sundown

the dogs come home one by one.

Inside, they click across the tiles.

No one even needs to call them.


Found In Volume 47, No. 04
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  • maggie smith headshot by lauren powers
Maggie Smith
About the Author

Maggie Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of the memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, as well as several  collections of poetry, including Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017).