I have a German Shepherd
the sheriff’s department would love
for his giant chest, his hundred and twenty
pound frame, his desire for honest work.
He helps me feed the horses
rummaging for mice behind the grain bin.
When the mares get pushy, his bark
booms across the frozen lake
and foxes slink away in their thin red sleep.
The growl from his throat
is prehistoric, a rumble from a black cave
where firelight breaks the rock in tattered shadows.
He knows there is danger in the world, and fear
is neither influence nor abstract.
When the doorbell sings its one chime
he looms quiet on the other side.
Being ready is a solemn job. He could do it forever.
In the cave of his ribs his heart is an ember.
(from The Light at the Edge of Everything)