Self-Portrait with Dog Crapping in Snow

Kyle McCord

He squats in the rain-drowned weeds staring

back along the leash that bonds us

I try to focus on the broken chain link vaulted

by a grey fox back to the stream’s cut

back beyond limits of my sight

I watch the ripples in the dark

as his tail becomes a ghost’s beard then just a tense

shadow what did he see in me what threat

did he misread in a language only instinct knows

now there is just a man and a dog traced across

acrylic snow both of us curious about this wilderness

which has kept to its boundary but for these pellets

what can I teach you when I have no instinct

just psalms and blessings bless the careless

art all animals leave all blood and dung

bless where decay does not live long

we share so little just this need carried out

in solemn ritual we turn

different senses on the doughy pines

marking off our territories


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