A Dog, Understanding

For a long time it was mostly my

tail that you tried to read.

It does give me away—the feeling

comes like a shiver and sometimes

winds my tail up sloppy like a drunk.


But now after nine years

you also understand when you have

sad eyes and I can taste ocean

on your face, I turn my head to the left.

Just a little, just to enough to say,

I’m worried. Please tell me

can I help? What can I do?


I see sad eyes and smell ocean now

while you hold that small box.

And you also half-bark.

Many half-barks, really, and a

long deep breath to catch up

while you wipe your eyes.

(Did you forget that I can

do that so much better?)


I look down and left, then

gaze up at you from beneath my

brow. Thank goodness my tail is

low and still.


It’s time for me to lean my

side into you and let you

scratch my head.

Time to climb up on the bed

where the light of the moon

shines on your wet face

and promises that a different day

will come if we only stay close,

you and me.


Studies reveal that dogs consistently turn
their heads to the left when they see images
of sad or fearful people. Newsweek, 6/21/18.




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