From the moment we leave home
Until the time that we return
The dog is worried.
She jumps onto the sofa or our scented bed,
keeping her vigil.
She knows nothing of our air-conditioned offices
or malls or restaurants.
She must assume, then, that we leave and walk for hours
along the route she knows: Past the yellow, hissing cat.
Past the yard with frantic beagles.
Has the black-mawed Chow four houses down made mincemeat of
Did the postman in the light blue pants accost us?
Dear God, has the UPS man in his snarling brown cube of a
truck run over us?
The dog calls up a hundred dangerous scenes.
She has acquired her knowledge empirically (by run-ins with these
evil-doers) or by watching through the window.
When at last we come home safely, her joy is total.
She wags herself into a circle; her face floods with relief
as if to say, “You are unharmed. You’re whole. I can relax.”
I wait until she’s finished sniffing me – especially my shoes – for
signs of damage. On the couch she crawls up next to me.
I stroke her face and haunches and croon her name
in gratitude for her concern.