Mid­night, with Dogs

Prairie Fire - - MARK SANDERS - MARK SAN­DERS

Mid­night and the pup­pies are out on the lawn do­ing what pup­pies do be­fore I set­tle in to sleep what sleep may come, now I am old and my bones, cham­bered into a con­gress of aches, re­mind me sleep should be re­served for those who have too much time on their hands.

An ar­madillo grubs the grass, and the pup­pies are ter­ri­fied of him, sight­less thing it is, obliv­i­ous to our near­ness de­spite bark­ing and my scold­ing for si­lence. Now I am old I long for quiet, and yet quiet is abrupt as thun­der. My wife is soundly asleep, and what­ever bed­time ban­ter there may have been

has washed like leaves down the long drive we’ve trav­elled, the storm be­ing the thing I de­sire, that hul­la­baloo to which I one day must be­come ac­cus­tomed.

You can’t write de­press­ing stuff, she told me once, years ago, and, well, ah well, that’s good ad­vice from some­one who’s old. But it’s not de­press­ing to be alive

at mid­night, as pup­pies crap on the lawn, watch­ing a blind tank nose worms out of dirt, or feel­ing wind wrap­ping warm about me be­fore sleep. Th­ese are things to be missed when sleep comes, hu­man things: the sound of one’s breath­ing in the pause be­tween speech, the rum­ble of the heart

to the fin­ger­tips, the air’s course through me.

Tonight, there’s a mil­lion stars in the sky I’ve counted, each one spe­cial. And tonight, stars fall, two or three, upon which I have made my wishes— to live long, to sur­vive ev­ery hurt, and to love, like a big-hearted dog, any twig handed me as if it is the world’s best thing.

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