I Owe My Dog Everything

Four times a day, the bulge of shag
who’s draped across the couch top
under the big window that exposes
the insides of our house to the every dog,
every person street, wakes up,
yips, yanks me, leashed, outside
where it’s always winter, or
about to be, or recovering. Much of
the time, darkness reigns. And cold.

Now in the backyard, I must
attend as, first, she whiffs subtle
bodies in the air, then teases
the news from trace molecules
in the snow or mud or what passes
for grass, then paces a tightening,
self-entrancing oval that
leads her to the Absolute
Exact Spot, so as to express
the day’s remains - glacially,
it seems, if she’s snarfed a napkin
from the trash - while the cold
closes in around me
like a chuck around a drill bit
reminding me: God is choice:
either I can be at-two with
my shivers, smelting lead minutes
out of gold standard seconds
or I can listen to the wind
rustle sibilance from the six
dead leaves left stranded on the white oak,
listen and watch as my dog hunches,
ripples her peristaltic muscles,
waits, ripples again, succeeds
in providing me intimate,
much-needed, instruction on
how to do the nothing new
as if - no, not as if -
as actually giving birth to
a warm, glistening new world.