You cannot know this yet
but it is the last hike you will ever take
with your dog. She is old. And though
she will try to jump,
as she always has,
over streams, even fallen trees,
you will have to lift her,
challenging your own aging
body and carry both selves over.
When she is in your arms, at first
obstinate, then relenting,
pressed to your own beast heart, you bury
your face into the wilderness
of her and smell rain, soil, pine,
and the first time you saw her
and how she ran circles around you
and the other dog, the now buried
beneath the mountain ash dog,
to prove you were hers.
your joy bounding with her
though fields wet of spring camas,
her brave stance against bears, moose,
but not the badger. This should be harder.
Heavier. This armful of seventeen years
should seem like a burden to carry
these last few steps. When finally
you must put her down
she shakes you off like pollen
from the beargrass bloom nose high
you stopped to smell together. Once
released to the earth, she won’t look back.
It is as if she only ever wanted you
to feel needed, special.
Look at her, loping ahead as if there is nothing
to fear, as if there is nothing
you cannot overcome without her.
Directed by Matthew Thompson.