by Kathleen Rooney


The master did not include any guards, but these objects, in a museum, seem guarded, velveted off behind red rope. Propped atop three neutral-toned pillars: a bust of Christ to the left, a bust of Dante to the right, and a hunk of butter thunked with a wooden paddle in between. The paradox, Loulou the Pomeranian perceives, is something about authority and perishability. Eternity in sequence.


Your surroundings give you a positional value in addition to your intrinsic one. In a different environment, Loulou could be used for food just as easily as for companionship.


Loulou does not consume much butter – he watches his figure – but if he were to breathe on this chunk, could he make it melt? Inspiration can mean “creative breath.” Loulou keeps his pom teeth clean, but he is a dog, so he supposes, regardless, he can be said to have “dog-breath.”


The master says, “Inspiration is the moment when one knows what is happening. In general, we do not know what is happening.” Memory is individual; history is collective. Exterior spectacles provoke internal majesty. Not so much meaning as the suspicion of meaning.


Like everyone, Loulou resides in his head but also outside it. “If you need me,” he says to Georgette, on his way to the garden, “I’ll be over here, having a hard encounter with the real.”

A founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, KATHLEEN ROONEY is the co-editor with Eric Plattner of Rene Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and her second novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press in January 2017. She lives in Chicago with her husband, the writer Martin Seay.