Yes. I will watch your dog
while you are away in Antarctica & Belarus.
It will be my pleasure to take him out
into the morning & into the night grown
thick as wild crop after rain. Probably,
he will love it, but will miss you with his face
at the window near the door he last saw you leave from.
He will sleep there, waiting, night after night,
as my own Lola does when I am gone. & in his head,
he will make a list of things he knows you’ll come back for.
He will say, Come back, come back
for the shoe you left, & for the telephone.
Come back, he will say, to ride in a car
& to throw a ball. Come back for the radio.
& one of these nights he will notice the moon
& it will be full, & he will call it Antarctica
& feel better knowing you are there
some where he can see.
This will be his way of coping.
& when you come back, you know the story:
your work-boots, glistened by travel,
will stand coolly underneath you
at the front door & the dogs,
your dog & my dog, will howl
to meet you. & won’t you come
with your deep pockets filled with souvenirs of ice
that, later, in the kitchen, you will call “fruit”
as you slice into its brilliant, shining meat
with a hot silver knife. & the dog
will lick the ice with his tongue, & turn
his good head toward the window
& he will think Antarctica is lonely, & the light
will push through him
with a sadness that herds sadness
into the bell of his dog heart,
a heart you’ll want to throw your arms around
for the way it knows what it is to be so swollen with loss,
for the way it knows that every night, heaven will sing,
& every morning, heaven will sing like this,
at the windows. & the dog
will put his giant, breathing face into your palm
& for the moment, no sad thing will creep
or move ominously into the continent of the dog
whose mastiff lungs are filled with you now. Call it
the memory’s inventory: his lungs will hold,
like saddlebags, your hundred smells of flowers & work
& chutneys & schoolyards & gasoline.
He will forget that to see you leave
burned down his ramshackle heart once, instead
your smells will flood him in tides craned down
toward the chest’s burning honeycomb, amen,
perfect as water rushing toward third, again, amen.