the dog is not good on the leash just yet,
veers this way and that, careens
into my legs, and i could almost be toppled
were it not for this decision i've made to
keep upright, away from cars and sidewalk
slippage and inopportune gravel that could, if i let it,
release me from my righteous grip on gravity.
i don't want to fall, i just don't,
don't want to hurt myself from the silly, undangerous act
of dog-walking, and it would so great if we could
just move in one straight line,
down the straight streets and sidewalks,
down the straight narrow aisles
of doorways and stairwells and
poison oak-lined bike trails in nearby Fairfax,
if i could keep that dog in order, maneuver him just so,
keep him fixed on the same horizon
i'm looking at.
the dog doesn't care about lines.
he prefers the chaos of off-track, untimed explorations,
even if the oaky undergrowth makes him sneeze,
even if he trips on exposed roots and rock-strewn creeks.
in fact, he likes it that way,
likes the obstacles that Mother Nature,
in her infinite wisdom, has thrown him.
we walk together to the trail head but he bucks wildly.
i'm thinking of dinner, and timing, and traffic,
but his feet don't care about the shortest distance
between the two points of arrival and departure,
about making that kind of order.
he prefers straying where he can
nestle his nose in the dirt undisturbed
forage for goodies like dead things, difficult climbs,
and dog shit that's not his,
these are his treasures,
what keeps his ears on such alert,
what makes his mouth water, and lips fly open
in total disregard of the nearby tripod of shiny leaves
his fur happily gathers it all up,
his body has been hungry all day for this,
the unseen, the undiscovered, the map below the map,
this is what he's here for, and I know I can only take him
as far as i myself
am willing to go.