Her dog is all tumours and grey,
They surround her muzzle.
Her eyes are red and bloodshot.
Licking her chops she is twitchy,
Laying down her eyes cast about,
She looks into space, looks far off.
Ache and day’s end exhale over her shoulder,
Open a window that is cold on my palm,
Open a window onto a grey day of sodden woods,
Where she sees some other dogs,
Who are light and running,
Who are light and running along the tops of tall green grass.
Are hasty brown blurs,
Among bright yellow sunflowers.
I see a brown seed bed,
I see it rung by overlapping yellow petals,
The tumours are gone,
Now gone away,
I hear her breathing cool breeze clean,
I hear her breathing fresh,
After rain over green,
Not grinding the hoarse rasp,
Not choking it out,
Foul air fisting through,
Shouldering, elbowing against and inside,
These bricks stacked, then tumbled,
Inside her throat.
How odd that with day’s end approaching,
She would come to look comical,
Foolish like the king of the jungle,
Mowgli been Shere Khanned,
I see her catching air,
Catching air in her snapping jaws,
Back seat of my Escort.
With day’s end approaching,
We see her round chamber in the thick woods,
A termite-hollowed log,
Inside a warm-blown flute,
Eyes drying like yellow varnish,
Varnish cracking like our patio table,
Table outside the small stone movie house,
The projector sputtering and crackling,
Spinning a spliced reel.
This reel is spliced with each breath,
Each running deep breath,
Each sitting shallow,
Spliced with each now faltering step,
The rainy then sunny day we ran by the canal.
This film is spliced, so it crackles through the bell viewer,
This film is spliced with her rattling rasping breaths,
I choke her with dog treats,
I felt each lump like Amy’s breast,
Fondled each killing tumor,
Like testicles descended,
Fallings I didn’t want,
I didn’t want her to turn and cough.
So in this dark masoned room,
Mortar cracks careen down the stucco,
In this small stone theater near the water,
Arid in the sunflooded square,
We sat on the bench.
She breathes like the desert:
Stealthy, stilly and shortened of breath,
We shortened our breath,
To swallow less of the oven air,
I carried her panting hot into the lake.
The tumours make her sweat,
She convects the aching warmth through the cool stone,
She lays sprawled like a fallen giraffe,
Her swollen neck on its cool.
When the snow came, ran off, then re-froze those nights,
She lay her lumps on the crust of the ice,
Respite from her rising hoisted in the air,
Then falling, then mincing steps, then bounding,
Freefalling, footing and stopping short,
Along the crumbly red brick road,
Towards day’s end.
She walked with me into the movie house,
She looked far-away,
The varnish brittled,
Her now sundered,
Sundered subtly from me,
Her eyes casting about,
She collects herself,
More than when in the full air,
When the full breezing blew over tall grasses,
She a puppy bounced up down in and out of view,
Through the tall speargrass, the green grasses,
The rushes by the high school,
The standing reeds and cottontails,
Growing under scrubby oak in shade.
Just off the Prestonwood playground,
Our shouts shuddered leaves in the oak,
Rocks, stones, flowers and brown bags in the boughs,
So sunny she trying to keep her head above the baby rushes,
For summer not yet set in,
And hardened to husks the green shoots.
She wild-eyed and tongue-bouncing,
Out either side of her snap jaw smiling,
Now laughing now smiling,
Her little bandit mouth,
Her bandit eyes,
Raccoon and watching her boy,
Through the stands of grasses.
She watches my brothers,
Her paws on the edge of the rock,
She the small dog sentinel,
Like her with field glasses.
Now no more looking out,
She looks in to a large field,
One meadow grass,
Mountains shadowed in the distance,
Took us three Gremlin hours from the flats,
For the mountains to be there,
More jagged with each Indian’s dog barking us past.
These views give way,
No more mountains,
Or other large away things,
Now she spends time with grasses.
Atop my belly, us on the floor,
For release from the labor of breathing,
She turns her bloodshot eyes away and blanks,
She looks inside to young green apples,
She lays down in the matting grass,
She all wattle and cool,
She no travois.
She no travois,
She hauling none,
No branches stuck to her coat,
She no longer travail to suck down dry air,
To scoop broken bricks with a dustpan.
No longer labor this inhale,
No longer exhausting her inhale,
Her not hearty and whole,
Not for a while now,
Now, with a hack,
Her throat clears.