we take the loop twice–next to ocean and up into muskeg–as our tongues are tireless in their walking

to own a dog is to
subject myself to an
unmanageable amount
of disappointment.
not from the dog,
but from me.

i live on a fluttering
island in the warm southern
spray of Alaska; people
here like to own dogs
and like to walk quickly
up mountains. there are many
brown bears here; dogs
alert human to bear
bear to human, avoiding
embarrassment and carnage.

i struggle to gather
enough courage to walk
in a crosswalk,
convinced i’ll trip
over the car driver’s eyes
and stumble on full display.

what embarrassment,
such carnage!

were there to be dog
to greet me upon my
triumphant return
home, it would look
at me with such hope;
let’s bound up a mountain,
let’s float in a boat!
let’s hunt for deer and
fish for salmon!
let’s scare bears and
laugh at cliff faces! but
i would have too much
important work to do,
hours demanding me to
fill them with spinning
stillness, a gnawing mind.
the dog would stare,
furrow, pace, and
finally, sigh itself
to disappointment of

a woman i was
willing to crosswalk for,
and who maybe once didn’t
mind my stumbling, she
spent time with other men
on this island, men
who mountain’d
and sea’d. and
when she was with
me, despite her
words to the contrary,
all i felt was
disappointment. what
embarrassment! what

she left me
of course,
our hearts both
had we had
a dog, perhaps
it could have warned us
of the danger up
ahead. perhaps it could have
encouraged me
out of my mind and
into woods. who
can manage such
a dog and
its beseeching
eyes? certainly,
not me.

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

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