Lynn Powers © 2006 All Rights Reserved
Late August, Dog Days
I have plans for a dozen dogs,
winter fires, rain storms, and pock
marked rivers as quiet as November
with the world off to work.
One dog first, maybe a year
to find its place near the back door,
in the truck, a year for us to settle
into a name it can wear,
and I can whisper as the coffee drips
in the dark. Plans call for cold
weather, for books mapping a course
in various corners of the house.
When daylight is more answer
than question, we walk an hour out,
an hour back. Pace means nothing
with a dog and a day. On the way out,
I’ll chant the names of those away.
The way back, I’ll list what they left
and assign it to the living.
Afternoon winks its way to dark,
a whiskey neat and a letter,
a few lines to know by heart,
a walk for the mail. One day
closer to the second dog.
‑He leans closer to hear the small whisperings…
What’s left is your day—
fountain pen, loose change, his ring
of keys bunched in your hand
the way your hand once fit in his.
In the closet, his ties drape in silky silence.
They are as far from shirts as the dead
from work.You slept so many hours
when his motion in the dark gathered
what he carried into another morning.
You wear mourning for weeks
convinced the sum of this change fits
a breast pocket, its pulse a clockwork
ticking in accord with your heart
until it stops, and the smooth stride
of two in step falters and pitches
you off balance, his whisper missing,
your pace broken. You worry his beret
between thumb and finger, inch the fabric
of its band round, a felt circle turning.
And the talk of tomorrow, deer at first light
look back as dumb as unopened mail.
The raccoons fear less each season.
The woman you love has bolts of wood
waiting. She sees what sleeps until her turn
frees a shape she learned from a tree.
What you have made of words makes you
lean at this quiet, the stilled voice pressed
in thick paper, letters set before ink.
KEVIN MILLER lives in Tacoma, Washington. Blue Begonia Press published his most recent collection, Everywhere Was Far.
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