American Mystic

Out of some toasty leaf-burrow she wallows into the cold,
following what calls her across
the icy crust of creek and up the ridge to my yard,
and shows herself in moonlight near the edge
of the pines, a shabby bag of nerves.

Her pink nose reads the air. Wind blurs
the suburb with snow.

I watch from the darkened kitchen, wondering if I’ve placed 
the dog food too near the window,
and lose her for a moment to the neighbor’s shrubs.
Then around the gatepost
a white snout follows a sniff, red eyes
inquire. She enters the yard
to chow at my bowl.

Always I let her eat
before rapping the glass to watch her bluff—a hiss
at the window, a flash of teeth.
But when I rap harder, that hysterical feint—the flip
to her back, eyes slammed shut, skinny
tongue lolling in the snow.

I fade behind the stove and wait. Wind spirits
the maples, the stars
vivify. Up she jerks, hissing at a mop,
a bag of pea gravel, a wheelbarrow
tumbled under the hedge,

backs out of the yard delivered and alert,
bare-toothed, edgy.