Dogs are natural scavengers
 They have the stomach for it
I remember Beth swallowed some
 decaying squirrel whole
Its tail hanging out of her mouth
 for the longest time
Nothing ever became of it

I always wondered where the deer went
 when they died
The forest was always
 a pantheistic land of wonder
As the snow tickled our noses
 Lexie was nowhere to be found
I laughed it off and yelled for her
 Then yelled and yelled
 Then ran and abruptly stopped
Lexie tenderly edging toward the deer carcass
 Shy even
Then the bump on the bridge of her nose appeared

A couple months later,
 in an unusual spring heat
Lexie leaves the trail
 With a straightforward earnestness
We walk an unfamiliar side–path
Cross an undiscovered stream
Another carcass prone to the sun
A vulture crouched in an adjacent tree
Impatient for our departure

The bump on her head reappeared at the top
 Lexie was given two months to live
And, at that other river,
 Her jaw too weak to grip
 the large branches so much a part of her
This third carcass
 Peaceful, laying amid the thorns
One does not begrudge one condemned to death
 to take their fill of death
Not one lick of impropriety

We filled our days with walks
We denied ourselves none of our walks
 We partook

Night Fetching

It’s a pleasant night
 First one in a while
I haven’t taken Lexie fetching
 for a while either — overworked
So, instead of taking a right
 we take a why not
Can’t see a moon to light our way
 but the suburb lights reflect in the pink clouds
Park closed at dark
 Park Authority
 I'll tell them I didn’t see
I don’t even know if she’ll want to fetch
 She’s all sniffs
 I let her off leash —
  no running to the stream
 As we pass it by
  She shyly deviates tween
  path and brook
Only when I go off–path
 does her tail wag
 and her feet scamper to water
I᾿m surprised to find the stream half–frozen
 a sheet of ice spreads towards the middle
No sticks around, so I climb onto the tree
 fallen across the stream
 and fetch one there amidst the debris
Will she need daylight to see
 or is it some other sense?
I throw it into the stream
 and she fetches it back
I throw it in again; she’s taking a while
 she needs daylight, I guess
Here comes Lexie dragging this
 mythical log
Strange, pure, hewn branch
 from the river bottom
Not waterlogged, just heavy in solidity
 She can’t even drag it out of the water
 just up to the shore
 and tears off half its bark in one bite
So, over and over, mythical log
 to be dredged from the bottom
 of icy river on beautiful night
Headlights peek at me for a while and fade
 an ambulance siren blares
 a police copter circles around
Mocking my fears — no one cares
Lexi scampers around the sheet of ice
 not finding the branch in the depths
“Get it!” I cheer, and she goes in and drags it out again

Creative Child

We go on our walk
Leash slung around my torso
Stick resting on my shoulder
Me, in boots and hat
The master
 understander of social obligations to fellow path–takers
 barker of commands
 thrower of the stick
 gazing ahead at her
 Her happiness mine
She, naked to the world
The child
 wagging her tail and shyly, naïvely approaching all comers
 reluctant heeder
 joyful fetcher
 exploring the vast world of
  earthly treasures
  surrounding us


A hard scientific concept to explain
It knows the fastest route
 ahead of time
and bends as it transitions,
 veers course
joyously following some cosmic efficiency
depending on the medium in which
 it finds itself
I throw the stick far down the creek
 thinking to guide Lexi into a long swim
with natural instinct she trots
 lengthwise down the watery beach
 and, in happenstance, selects
 the most efficient entrance to dive into the deep
Then there were those long minutes she spent
 at the edge of the pool
Determinedly awaiting the stick
 to drift to her

Fall Fetching

The scene dimmed
 with a gentle rush of wind
 as the leaves fell into the stream
The dreamlike matte blurring of the surface
 as the sunken leaves glowed like gems
All the while, soft droplets innocently danced
 with their distinctive expansion everywhere
Followed by heavier drops, deeper, not intrusive
 — on another level, ringing out —
And the kersplash and the wake of my dog
 causing huge ripples, yet still harmonious
 with all the beautiful blustery co–action
Wispy winds brush over the water
 with their own tickling touch
The wind and a pleasant rain
 come up from behind me, pushing me towards
 the vast coverage of webs of undulations
 all clearly distinct, all meshing together
in a beautiful, delicious, mystifying
 fall day of fetch


Sticks are too small to waste her time with
Only branches will do
I break a nice big one down to 5 feet
 we walk down to the stream
We could go on and on
 forever casting and fetching
I throw it out beyond the bend
 she stops as she approaches it
 her face all perplexity
 and looks into the water just under her
With a strange backward digging effort
 she thrashes
 dives her head into the water
 and exhumes a waterlogged 12–foot branch
With glee, she trots back with it
Sometimes, she’ll voraciously
 chew up an over–sized log dredged from the depths
 biting away in continuous joy and concentrated angst
 with the occasional bit of wood wedged in her teeth
 Sometimes, she’ll disintegrate the whole thing to shreds
This time, we cast and fetch
 over and over
 a rainbow in each splash
Too big for us to carry away in comfort

Distance to Water

Luria Park, I knew since my youth
 On a field trip there, I found an ant creature
 Upon magnifying the water in a microscope
It was there I learned that Lexi loved the water
 and was afraid to swim
And walking back from there with her
 We bumped into and a cousin of Lexi’s, Nico
 and his kind owner Jim
 who suggested the path to the nearby lake
 where we’d later teach her to swim
Then there are the two parks nearby
 which Evi and Anyu once graced
 which I go to for a change of pace
Lexie even discovered the dog park
  by her own intuitive pulling one day
And my brother suggested the nearby nature center
 which offered its own mystical stream
 journey under the beltway
And that bike ride down Camelot which
 revealed the trail with a new, wide stream
 that I have yet to take her to
And for all this wonder,
 she just wants to be fetching in the water

Little Time for a Little Love

We cross the bridge
and the water there is perfect,
wide and deep
with a soft beach for entry
 Cast, cast, cast
 Swim, swim, swim
 Fetch, fetch, fetch
While Lexie furtively fetches
I lean upon the rusting railing in repose
After a fetch, I calmly gaze upon a pair of yellow–winged butterflies
 Hip, hop, hip, hop, along the beach
One flutters a foot; the other follows
Then, stillness; their wings parallel, vertical
The moment holds its breath
while still calmly breathing
easy, like the gentle breeze that crowns us

Wings open
Her wings open in one majestic bloom
 neither slow nor fast
 not confident or timid
 but all those things and none
 such she unfolds her world to him
He gazes upon her pattern
while another epoch quietly breathes withheld breath

He pounces upon her
Her wings fly up, a Venus encircling him
My heart exalts that such ravishing peace could exist in the world
My brain, dizzy, torn asunder
How long, I wonder,
could this incredible little bliss be permitted to exist
I pause, grateful for each second
as Lexie pleads for another fetch
Lest she bark, I contrive to throw the branch over the other side
But, upon my first movement, she careens down the sand into the water

He disappears
She hops from one rock to the other and back to their love-patch
in despair, love–lost.
In a fortunate bizarre twist,
Lexi goes under the bridge and up the other side
Lady butterfly hops
I wait, another epoch
Just a half epoch
He comes from nowhere
and, instantly, they rejoin in their double–V

Down the path we go, to leave them to the delight of the world
I have to laugh at myself for thinking 30 minutes enough for eternity
for, when we double–back later
and I've promised Lexie a proper romp in the perfect water,
I realize that she’s disturbed them again