“…and he claws at the door to be let out at night…”

Gasch’s Guide to Gargoyles and Other Grotesques says that this bone-clutching critter on the north nave of the National Cathedral is a basenji, an African dog that can’t bark but does tend to yodel. Our neighborhood basenji earned his place in the 1959-1960 gargoyle design competition; his artist, as you’ll see, is already the subject of apocrypha.


Bereft of bark, I bat my bone about,
And do my simple service as a spout,
And in my mind I romp across the grass
And nip at skirt-clad ankles as they pass,
And let no lofty insight cloud my brain;
Discernment falls and drips away, like rain.
…but once, a sunny pilgrim made me think:
Her left hand clutched a sketch-pad sopped with ink,
Her right hand led her son—and in my spine,
I knew those hands determined my design.
That sprinkler-misty morning, I awoke
And listened to my maker as she spoke:
“Imagine: When a thousand years have flown,
We’ll look up and see this pup-spout of our own.”
The boy stepped back suspiciously and said,
“I hope by then we’re looking down instead.”

(For all the entries in this series, hit the “looking up” tag.)

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