★ ★ ★ ★
Image by Farrinni
The one who called me Little Lizard
after a line in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes,
the one my friends called Mr. Laundromat
because we had our first date there,
the one I called R2 (but not to his face)
because he and my ex-husband
were both named Rich,
the one who called me Person
or sometimes Perse and sometimes Porse
and then after we broke up
I found out that’s what he called
the new girlfriend, too,
the one where our noses were in love
and had their own pet names
for each other, and the saddest part
of our breakup was when
Schnozz and Little Button
realized they were now going to be
separated forever, and he and I
both cried so hard on their behalf
that we almost got back together again.
Walking with Tanky-the-Dog
The one good thing about my son’s divorce
was supposed to be that she would take the dog.
But somehow – how did this happen? –
here he is. We walk every day, the two of us.
He writhes with joy at the sight
of the leash, then trots beside me,
small legs churning, so pleased, so proud.
I’m surprised when other people stop
to tell me how cute my dog is. My dog?
Oh, that’s right: they must mean Tanky.
If other dogs growl, he ignores them.
Otherwise, he does the obligatory growling.
After all, someone has to do
whatever it is that needs to be done.
And sometimes that someone
turns out to be you.
Photo by Laura Roettiger
Claudia Mills is the author of over 60 books for young readers, including most recently the middle-grade verse novel The Lost Language (Holiday House 2021), named a Notable Verse Novel of the Year by the National Council of Teachers of English. A professor emerita in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado, she now spends her days writing, reading, and walking at her home in a forested canyon in the Boulder mountains.