Dew is already deep in the overgrown grass,
the air damp with a salty tang.
Zeke’s hips are too ground down
to lift a leg, so he just stands there. We both
just stand, looking into the darkness.
Sometimes a moon silvers his thinning fur.
Sometimes it’s clear enough for stars.
Orion strides across the heavens, his dog
trotting at his heel. A great live oak reaches over
from the neighbor’s yard, dense black limbs
silhouetted against a paler sky, single voluptuous
remnant of forests. Can a tree be lonely?
Zeke tips up his muzzle, scent streaming
through a hundred million olfactory cells
as he reads the illuminated manuscript of night —
raccoons prowling down the street, who’s in heat
or just out for a stroll. Handsome still,
he reminds me of an aging movie star with his striking
white eyebrows and square jaw. He always
had an urbane elegance, a gentleman
who could carry off satin lapels and a silver-tipped cane.
Tonight an ambulance wails. Someone not so far away
is frightened, in pain, trying to live or trying to die.
And then it’s quiet again. No birds. No wind.
We don’t speak. We just wait, alive together,
until one of us turns back to the door
and the other follows.