Romance: A Parable

Jon Loomis

I live in a garden apartment. Upstairs, a woman I rarely see,
who keeps a huge leggy dog and a green parrot. Every day
an hour after she walks to work, the parrot calls from its cage

At the kitchen window – Dinnertime! – in the woman’s throaty alto.
Every day the dog leaps up from its rug in the bedroom, gallops
down the hall – clawing and skidding around the turn

at the kitchen door, a lion-colored haunch bashing into the wall –
the whole house quivering. You can almost hear the dog’s
confusion; almost see it snuffle the empty bowl,

sit and ponder beneath its furrowed brows before tick-ticking
back to the rug, where it sighs and falls asleep. Pleased with itself
the parrot cackles and shrieks a while and then falls silent.

I imagine it cocking a bright, malicious eye. Outside, traffic
rumbles down the brick street. The mailman whistles on the stoop,
stuffs a wad of catalogs through the slot. Then the parrot calls again –

Dinnertime! Dinnertime! – the dog erupts down the hall, caroms
off the door, snuffles, click-clicks slowly back to its rug and lies down.
Some days the parrot tricks the dog again and again. Each time

the dog forgets. Optimist, what else can she do? Pretend to sleep?
Pretend that something lovely isn’t waiting in the other room?

Jon Loomis teaches English at UW-Eau Claire. “Romance: A Parable” is reprinted by permission of the author from The Pleasure Principle (2001). To learn more about Jon, visit

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