He was beside the road as I drove home,
his coyoteness in the moonlight by the river
his eyes bright coals in the brush
reminding me to be awake
to the night, to my journey
and my life.
He raced me up the hill that day, car versus dog,
the first day I’d been able to drive to school---
celebrating my accomplishment with his wagging tail
and his wet nose. No one else
celebrated that passage of life with me. No one else
cried when I dug his grave
and took off his collar.
She slipped away in peace, trusting me
as the needle plunged into her sick, poisoned body ---
trusting me with all her heart
to take care of her
the way she took care of me
the way she took care of our new son
the first day, at fifteen, he lived with us.
She taught him to be family,
to sit in the living room, she at his feet,
and be together, to be
loved, just for who he was—
it was the first time he knew love.
She knew that. She knew it all
and taught all of us well.
She touched her paw to my head, as she slept
and I read, in my favorite chair.
The house silent, except for the fireplace
and her occasional soft snore
and the turn of the page in my book.