The Scald

Once, in the fields we knew
I found a scrub wood gaping with ragweed
beside a gulch that smiled
with tin teeth.

A speckled dog lay there in the dirt
his breath racing between staggered jaws
mange-ridden, a hunter’s pet
caught in the crosshairs between loving
and being loved.

He nosed my hand as I drew back
brittle grass broke beneath his tail
beating, anxious. Buckshot in his belly,
a trickling reminder—
he knew something of forgiveness.

His flanks heaved, spotted with shit
and the whine of flies. But when he looked up
smiling, bloody-nosed:
he was just like me.

We sat together, among fennel wasted in red dust.
His tongue lolled, burnt with hope,
under the eye of the trees.

Photo by Joshua Gresham on Unsplash.

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