August Leaf Falls
for Wembley, Jen, Lacey, Hana, Shadow, Pearl and Jeep
The hot breath of dog days scorches summer leaves.
A dried-out leaf saunters sideways,
victim of look ahead, afloat too soon.
My dog pants, twitches in hurting sleep.
Orion calls her home early, like August leaf-fall,
short-lived when stretched against decades:
two or three dogs to a mortgage,
one to obsolescence of a refrigerator.
Seeking the shade of the maple
where my dog treed a squirrel, I count
how many dogs I’ve needed
to live my life. What treat’s in my pocket
at the end of my path of souls? What bone?
What blood? I measure how I learned to love
in dogs’ lives. Slobber is juicy.
Cold nose my crotch and armpits.
Wag me tenderly. Cull fur from fingers
the dog hears the hunter’s call.
I was not ready. Like times before
I tried to call you back
from sniffing the incredible
but you fell before me,
the August leaf, done
for this round, early.
I snipped the clasp off your leash
and hid it in a private drawer.
I see you in the cool dark
where the shades drawn against heat
melt shadow puddles.
You are flat out and beautiful.
When the hunter called you home,
you went. Come when you’re called.
Your cookie’s in my pocket.
Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has lived only brief periods of her life without a dog. Her poetry and haiku have appeared in dozens of journals. Urban Wild, her poetry chapbook out in 2014, details relationships between humans and wildlife in urban habitat. website: triciaknoll.com