by Shenita Etwaroo
I saw a dog one day, as I walked down the block, taking my exercise for the day.
I saw a dog one day, chained in my neighbor’s yard.
I jogged past a dog one day, hearing his bonds clink as he trotted
To the edge of his confinement to sniff curiously my way.
I saw the dog again and again, my breaths quick and shallow,
Barely registering his dark brown fur,
The pink tongue that hung gracelessly from his mouth
As he panted in the heat.
I try not to look at the dog as I jog by,
I try not to notice the hissing grass and harsh sun He is not sheltered from.
I try not to notice the mats in his fur
Or the shiny reflectiveness of empty metal bowls
Meant to feed and refresh him.
I look for the dog as I jog past his owner’s house,
Noticing at once his absence
When he was no longer there to try
So painstakingly to ignore.
I slow down by his house every day,
Eyes scanning the yard,
But even the chain is gone,
The soil disrupted from where the stake was
Wrenched from the Earth.
I try not to notice the dog-sized mound
In the side of my neighbor's yard.
I jog faster and faster past their home everyday.
I try not to think of how long the dog has been gone.
I try not to think of what I could have done,
Try not to think of the water bottle in my hand,
The one I always carry,
And how easy it would have been
To give the poor creature a drink
In the exhaustive heat
That surely created the dog-sized mound
In the side yard of my neighbor's home.