Marat

This poem is about unnecessary and prolonged suffering. It is inspired by the true story of a Great Pyrenees who led a confined life in a small apartment. Marat was hit by a car and sustained injuries he could survive only without the use of his hind legs.

Veterinarians do not take the Hippocratic Oath. In fact, according to an article dated May 1, 2008 in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine:

The veterinary profession was founded over 200 years ago by a group from the Odiham Agriculture Society who were fired with enthusiasm by the Enlightenment. It was thought that the application of scientific method to the treatment of injury and disease in animals would increase useful longevity for cavalry and transport horses, improve production and profits in agriculture and contribute to the understanding of zoonoses. Its function was to be unashamedly and unquestionably anthropocentric, concerned only to improve the fortunes of humanity. Any advantage for the welfare of animals was incidental.

for R.M. McLean

Only able to move his eyes
he stirs, head slumped he
scans the foul-smelling room
lifts his head and
bumps the low ceiling
of the metal box with
three steel walls and
a wire front
he knows he can’t get up
there’s not enough room
for a small dog to stand

He begins to tremble
not from any memory
but the draft of air
against his bare skin
he’s cold to the bone
especially where
he used to have hair
disconcerted
by the unexplored bounds
of bright-white territory
endless lights
whimpers and whines and
the scrape of his nails
as his feet push to nowhere
in oozing pus and
phantom pain

His body motionless
hair matted and damp
with sweat and blood
he takes in the smell
of his waste and the cries
so thick, so close, still
he cannot move his head
to respond, the painkillers
insufficient for sleep
strand him awake

If only he could crawl
nose open the wire window
somehow find his way back
to the tiny apartment
if only he could run
escape the claustrophobic
dart out the front door
far from the shattered
hips and leg he cannot feel
beneath him

Eyes roaming the stillness
Marat does not know
that an intravenous diet
of water and drugs
will imprison him
for as long as he lives
his sole domain
dozing and waiting
to stand and walk out
of the foodless fog dream
break free of the lying
day in and day out
in his own excrement
that will continue
as long as his master
keeps him alive
unable to let him go

Marat’s owner
wrote the standing order
he doesn’t come by
and visit anymore
but continues to sign
for more medication
an instrument
in the name of love
of prolonged suffering
a veterinarian
should know better

Photo courtesy Great Pyrenees Puppies For Sale

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