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I smile when I think of you.
Our memories vivid and cherished.
Like that time I was sure we could cross
the river and you were sure we shouldn’t
but in you went anyway when I asked
and though I panicked when I felt us
begin to float downstream
you steadily made our way to shore
albeit further down than I intended.
You always did that
rescued us
From that foggy evening I got us lost
when we first moved to Idaho
to that too steep, crumbly foothill I
pointed us up
only to have to ask you how to get down.
Or that time I had cancer
and was four days out
from a painfully thorough neck surgery
but everyone who would have told me no
had finally gone back to work and
we were alone so
of course
And when that giant tree branch
did exactly what tree branches do
and I had to choose because my neck
(stitched and glued shut as it was)
did not want to work
I chose to slide off because there was no saddle
(of course)
and the moment you felt me left of center
you stopped moving
despite your hooves sliding down
the very steep, dry, and sandy creek bank.
You just dropped your head low and turned to watch
with one, mildly annoyed, “I told you so” eye
while I slowly slowly slid
down your side
gripping first your neck, then your leg
to ease my imminent meeting with the ground.
Could you imagine if I’d had to go back
to the hospital for my idiocy?
But I didn’t (of course)
because you were you and
no matter how awful some of my ideas turned out
it always turned out okay.
I smile because I remember
and all of our memories but one
turned out fine.
I smile
but I’m stuck, Tris.
Right where you left me under the apple tree.
I understand that there is life and there is death.
I understand we all get to be here together for only so much time
and I don’t regret a moment of the 18 years
I got to love you
no matter how it hurts now you’re gone.
The part I can’t get figured
is this:
I need freedom to be happy
like I need air to breathe.
And as long as you were there in the field
I knew freedom was just as close.
I knew you would carry me right out of myself
when my thoughts got too heavy
or my burdens too much to bear.
In the two years since you’ve gone
I have learned that humans and dogs
are full of love
but cannot really offer freedom.
And I don’t want to be held
I don’t want to cry in someone’s arms.
I don’t want to talk about it,
I want to run.
I want to fly.
Not forever, not away.
Just for the joy of speed
and possibility;
all while sitting soul to soul
in the sweet silence
of being understood
without having to explain.

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