One Last Time

I’m only here to walk.

To take in all the mountains — the red rock

to comb through the sage brush

and

to watch her final run.

She stops periodically:

tail pointed

front paw lifted

nose in line with her discovery.

My father readies his gun beside me,

I don’t need the gun.

I watch her.

It’s not as though we had taught her —

no — It’s nature.

Shecreepsuponthebirduntil, at last,

the bird

lifts into the air,

a sound like a fan whacking a paper

then the crack:

Death’s Signal.

The fan’s heart has finished turning.

 

Brittany, her pointing finished, dashes off

and disappears in the grey bushes,

bounds across the rushing stream —

all we ever see of her little body is her head

bobbing

             up

                 and

down

like an excited child playing peek-a-boo.

She brings the bird to my feet.

I smile.

Not at the bird, but at Brit.

How happy she is.

How at home she is:

in this barren country landscape

so far away from where we live.

I recall the way she awoke this morning,

early. Early enough to understand the meaning.

Today, she knew, she would head home.

 

I wonder now, as I picture having picked that bird up,

as Brit sped away again in search,

did she know then it was her last time —

our last time —

visiting her homeland?

But as I watched her dash about excitedly,

as I watched her come back to me, panting and contented

I realized. This is how she’d always been. And,

this is how she would always be,

right up until the end.