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When she comes in through the dog door,

she flings her eighty-some pounds on the rug,

relieved that she need no longer run in circles

barking at her fresh memory of the bear,

cursing away the smelly intruder in Dog.

The rhododendrons close their delicate ears.

The spruces and firs put on a patriarchal scowl

at this upstart dog's noisy anger and insolence.

The alders, in their youth, enjoy the chase,

but the redwoods continue their stately climb,

their ambition, I suppose, to connect earth's soil

with at least a few million of the nearer stars.

All Stella knows is that intruders might break up

her family again, which would mean returning

to the shelter, chained to a stake and surrounded

by strange people, strange dogs, strange food,

punished for something she did or did not do,

puzzled about what she might have overlooked.

You can't be too careful, she seems to think,

so she barks at all bears, even the ones on television.

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