Good Dog

By Dianne Pearce

 

You stood in front of your owner’s truck, prancing in your gait 

not from happiness 

but from trying to walk sideways 

in front of the oversized blue truck of your master

to block it from driving off

 

I’d pulled over to see if I could help your owner catch you

Your owner screamed at you and me

You were a stray

Not his dog! Not his dog!

 

You were so confused 

upset to be not in the truck

to be put out in a road you didn’t know

You were trying to evolve human speech right in front of me

to explain to him who owned you that he’d made a mistake here

 

But he pumped the gas,

lurching the truck 

trying to scare you from in front of it

 

You would not go

You tried to climb the front grill

The huge tire had your paws on it next

even though this could have put you under it

crushed you to dust

 

It was a standoff 

his hate fierce, baring its teeth against your need 

to be back in the cab

with him who you loved

he who hated you

 

Finally your anxious gait bounced you

accidentally

to the side

 

Your terrible owner 

saw his opportunity 

slammed the gas pedal

swung the wheel hard into the oncoming lane

swerved back and forth 

sped away 

away 

from you

 

You turned

 

You ran

 

So fast

 

So fast

 

Your feet met 

in the middle 

back and front

under you 

for each stride

 

You were faster than any living thing had ever been or will ever be

 

But the truck was not a living thing, and the man driving it had lost his humanity

 

So when it hit the bend in the road

topped 70 in the oncoming lane

willing to kill any other car that might have happened to drive on that side

Willing 

to kill 

to crash

just to get away from you

 

When that happened

when you realized you couldn’t catch him

when the bastard who had owned you finally succeeded in throwing you away

I heard your stalwart heart break

 

as you howled

hooked a left

across the road through the cornfield and cemetery 

and disappeared into the woods

at top speed

to a place where no one could ever find you

so that you could just die already

Alone

Thrown away

Following his orders

(as always, for you were a good dog)

to make yourself trash.

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