The Bulldog of Bergen

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021


A couple walking up stairs on a street
Photo courtesy of

by Fiona Clarke ’23


On adumbrate days, I am the Bulldog of Bergen, 

And in real time I untangle the long and short 

Of it, the empty light and heavy weather, 

The sprints and standstills and downs and outs. 

Me and my ill-begotten dream— 

We go hand in hand down these irregular streets, 

Hand and hand, hand in hand, so that 

The orange peel tendons that cling to my fingers 

Will catch and stretch on yours. 

You caught me trying to press a footprint  

Into the hardened concrete, 

And told me how to tell time by the trees growing up through the sidewalk. 

Now I am walking perpendicular to a wearing wind, 

And my thoughts laugh with you. 

Time and memory have always served me well, 

And I have tried to serve them also, 

Anticipating, approximating, the light and long 

Of it, the wild horses and slowed-down wrestlers, 

And the dark that contains the stars. 

I will be satisfied if you would only tell me what you mean. 

What do you mean by fumbling with the keys in the rumbling dark? 

By saying “yes” to nothing out of nowhere? 

What do you mean by being no one else? 

By being absent in all others? 

When I see you are not there, 

You are only there all the more. 

I have sat at the feet of time and memory, 

With open ears and a shut-up heart. 

I must have served them well, for now see my reward: 

One who marks the tempest with a steadier heart rate, 

One who calls off the dogs, and looks out at the oceans, 

One who turns a shoulder, who turns a shoulder again, 

One with sharper eyes for the drop and lift and push and pull— 

You, a counterbalance.