What would you have me do, though, when the stray
red hound almost dies in my driveway, when her paws
are so swollen from dehydration and mange that she cannot
walk any farther along our country road,
when she is covered in her own blood from so many fleas
and mosquitos, and when she wheezes every so often
like a seasoned smoker? What should I do
after I feed and water her, after I bathe her skin—
stretched taut against each rib, after I find her redneck
owners who love her so much they don’t notice she is gone
for days, after they give her to me because she is just
“too damn smart” for their pathetic fence?
You might say: Put that dog poem in the drawer.
But then you’d never know she makes it, that she brings me
a bone every morning, that her tail can only wag—like a boat
propeller—in circles instead of side-to-side. You’d never know
that her heart somersaults around her chest—even when she sleeps—
because a valve never closed just right. I realize you might not
care. But you must know that I don’t have another way
to remember what is important, another way to heal, another
small way to make my world right.
Yonkers, New York, United States of America