Zorba: Coming Home

Humane shelter housing homeless hounds
dog-turds dropped in cages built on concrete
water and piss and spilled food dishes
barking, growling, howling, whining, woofing, yelping
     hopeful, hapless, helpless
     fearful, frightened, frightening
barely bearable

In that din you showed a quiet dignity and I liked your looks
     almond eyes, broad head, very furry (medium length), 
     fluffy tail curled up, ruff puffed up, ears pointed up
not Siberian (black-and-white), but what?
     auburn, bay, beige, chestnut, chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, ecru,
     fawn, hazel, mohogany, musteline, russet, sorrel, tawny, titian, umber
yes and more, softly blended

The humane people told me you were part
     Norwegian Elkhound, German Shepherd, and who-knew-what
     which is why I called you Zorba (why not Greek as well?)
and that
     you had been abused and beaten by your former owners and
     you were taken from them through legal action and
     the dignity I thought I saw was simply dread and
that you couldn’t improve by staying there any longer

When I got you home I knew they knew you well
because when I picked up something new to you
     your leash
     the broom
     my belt
you lay down on your side
and urinated

It took you a while to learn 
     who to trust
     some manners and tricks
     not to hog the bed at night
     which houses you could bum for food
and it took me even longer to get over wondering if the neighbors
thought I meant the Greek when I wandered in the dark crying 
“Zorba!  Come home, Zorba!”