One Last Time
I’m only here to walk.
To take in all the mountains — the red rock
to comb through the sage brush
to watch her final run.
She stops periodically:
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,
lifts into the air,
a sound like a fan whacking a paper
then the crack:
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
like an excited child playing peek-a-boo.
She brings the bird to my feet.
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.