How to walk these woods
Without you, dog,
Companion of these thirteen years,
Without the sound
Of your breath
The sound of you chasing
squirrel or deer, no care for stealth.
How indeed with only 2 eyes
To observe the daily changes
Without your great snout
To guide us both,
Carry all 6 feet to scat or carcass
Or a leaf whose meaning remains veiled.
These woods are inseparable from
The sight of you,
Dappled sunlight on your brindle coat,
Big mouth smiling,
Tongue to one side,
You travel so much more slowly now,
The same trails more delicately trotted,
Tired older hips navigating, cautious.
Still: bursts of puppy running,
sprints after turkeys, but
bunny days are over.
Your rest at home is deeper.
There will be a time when the sleep
Will be longest. That time
the sound of your paws on the dirt,
the jangle of your tag as it swings
Its rhythm, are enough,
Why walk with ghosts
When I have you still beside me,
Each moment more precious
Than the last.
Thirteen years: I’m still learning
To be in the woods truly
like you, with you,
not chasing thoughts like rabbits
but letting them go their way,
filling my eyes and ears with
all of your beauty,
wagging like you
with my whole self.