To kick off National Poetry month in April, we turned to Paul Legault to share an excerpt and a reflection on a poem from his new collection, The Tower, for our Weekend Poetry series. Read on below for what he had to share!
“A Prayer for My Dog” is based on a W. B. Yeats poem titled “A Prayer for My Son”. Basically, the mystical Irish senator prays for a guardian angel to watch over his crying baby (so he can get some sleep). I don’t have a son, but in the great queer literary tradition (see: Gertrude Stein’s Basket) I have a dog.
Joseph and I got a puppy when we moved in together in Bushwick, right after Enlightened was cancelled, so we named her Laura Dern. What else do you need to know about this poem? In The Walking Dead, my favorite actor on the show, Danai Gurira, plays a katana-wielding badass. What else? There’s this beautiful W. S. Merwin poem called “Place” that starts “On the last day of the world / I would want to plant a tree.”
Love makes you think about the apocalypse, because it gives you this mission: protection, which is to say the protection of your loved ones against the worst thing that can happen. I wish there were guardians to protect everyone on the Earth. We’re in the midst of a pandemic. There is a climate crisis that threatens to kill millions more. Trees and we are in a bad position. It is easy to love animals. They just are. Us too.
Get your copy of The Tower here!
Paul Legault is the author of The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn, 2010), The Other Poems (Fence, 2011), The Emily Dickinson Reader: An English-to-English Translation of the Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (McSweeney’s, 2012), Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror 2 (Fence, 2016), and Lunch Poems 2 (Spork, 2018). He also co-edited The Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare (Nightboat, 2012).