—for H & J
Choosing a Dog
"It's love," they say. You touch
the right one and a whole half of the universe
wakes up, a new half.
Some people never find
that half, or they neglect it or trade it
for money or success and it dies.
The faces of big dogs tell, over the years,
that size is a burden: you enjoy it for a while
but then maintenance gets to you.
When I get old I think I'll keep, not a little
dog, but a serious dog,
for the casual, drop-in criminal—
My kind of dog, unimpressed by
dress or manner, just knowing
what's really there by the smell.
Your good dogs, some things that they hear
they don't really want you to know—
it's too grim or ethereal.
And sometimes when they look in the fire
they see time going on and someone alone
but they don't say anything.
from The Way It Is
Graywolf Press, 1998