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Brave

Alone in the dark with the dog we’ve just freed
from a trap, I sort the questions
while you crash through brush to phone Canine Patrol.
The stars flash on above our neighbor’s cornfield,
but I can’t feel Virgo, or her dog watch us.
The dog I comfort shakes with pain; he bleeds,
and stains my city dress, and weighs his head against
my knee as I’ve weighed mine against your shoulder.

There may be incidental answers:  where he came from,
who has set the trap,
what stalled our train before it left Grand Central,
and why it was only you who heard his howls.
But if life’s a tangle of connections,
why should isolation be its heart?
Now cramped and cold, and wishing you’d come back,
quickly with the van, I stroke this nameless collie,
saying the same words we say to each other,
“It’s all right; you’re not alone.”

–Published in “Prairie Schooner”