Dog in the Ditch, Lillian Springs Road
This morning it was alive
when it walked out of shadow—
brown mutt, brown trees, brown
grass in the swale. Walked
in front of the car like a shopper
decides beans would be good for dinner
and turns toward the shelf. Truck
in the narrow lane, sun in its windshield,
beside me. I don’t swerve as much as hope
for the center line. I don’t want to spatter
my daughter and I on the grill of a three-quarter ton Chevy.
I hold a short breath until the dog
thumps my bumper and still I hope
that we or the dog are blessed, lucky, that death
today might be like baseball, a game
of inches. In the ditch it lay still,
big ugly head, pit bull and chow maybe, scarred
legs, mange, no collar. I let my breath out.
This dog, dead, looked homeless. No one
could mourn it, no one had called its name.
I left it there, winter falling on us,
and drove past the alfalfa field,
twenty rolls of hay, tractor
rusting near the broken barn.