Sestina for Dog Silence

Long he walks in silence,
carries silence, eating, running,
dreaming, but brings to answer doors, our guardian,
clickity claws on hard floors, a woof, ancient
inherent, and basso, and his growls
for young men who broach the garden.

Knees in wet grass I garden,
belong to old dirt and dog silence,
drop my fear, my furrowed brow, my growls,
find the calm of free running,
a link to the ancient:
dirt as sanity’s guardian.

Rhythm was sanity’s guardian.
Decades ago I ran beyond street and garden,
ran along sand and rising sun, ancient,
familiar, ran in wordless silence,
sneakers batted boardwalk, running
freed my fear, my furrowed brow, my growls.

Spade hits poplar root. Without a growl,
I yank it loose, guardian
tasked with excising intruders running
through the depths of the garden,
moving darkly, in silence,
through Seattle’s young soils and ancient.

Young runs through ancient,
ancient through young. Dog growls,
bristles, and keeps silence
like his wolf forebears. He is guardian,
like the wolf. He respects woods over garden.
Like the wolf he lives off meat and running.

Had I four legs, I would also be running,
wolfish, but am like my forebears and ancient,
grey, and stiff from bending in the garden—
imagine the romping, imagine the growls,
imagine myself a guardian,
long to understand dog’s large silence.

Until we understand the growls and the running,
understand the guardian, young or ancient,
dig to find dog silence in the roots of the garden.

Filed under Poetry

Pamela Hobart Carter loves Seattle as much for its water and mountains as for its bustle and creativity. She explores the Emerald City daily while walking her dog. Carter used to be a teacher who wrote on the side. Now she is a writer who teaches on the side.