Snow-covered path in a park

A Theology of Puppies


The early morning cracks, as it always does —
sun seeping through a breached ironclad 
of clouds.

It takes far too many minutes, but I find my way 
out of the tangle of sheets, sleep still clinging to my
eyes. And in the mopey darkness, stumbling for shirts,
and socks, and consciousness, I hear 

the pit-pat, pit-pat of a puppy tail
drumming the happy start to another
promised day. 


Sometimes, I forget to eat.
You know the story: busy meeting and cleaning 
and remembering to buy toilet paper.

Sometimes, I have to cheer myself on to 
chew and digest: “Eat that leftover pasta. 
You need the calories. Then the laundry, then the
email, then the …”

So I stand at the side of the fridge, 
pawing through my four-day-old 
penne with peas. That’s when
she sidles up to me, my shadow,
and I see this mottled love bug:
eyes pinned to mine, tail
wagging to and fro. 

I can’t explain it, not really, but she 
never asks for my food. Instead,
she comforts like a friend who knows
me better than myself: “You should never
eat alone,” she tells me, butt wiggling 
and eyes grinning. 

“Maybe loneliness is why you forget to eat.
But nevermind — I’m here now.”


On any other winter day, when I need a space
to think, I walk in the wide and empty park
three blocks from my apartment. I slide through
failing snow, slushy and on its way, dissolving
into nut-brown water. 

Above, the gray things confer: It’s winter, yes, yes, 
Let’s do winter things and cut out light where
most of it shines. So in the sad sop of a Saturday, I 
think of things not done, wished for. I count
regrets with the clop of my leaky boots.

I walked the park yesterday, the same tired paths. 
Treaded the retiring snow under a canopy 
of gray. But this time, with a friend oblivious 
to every stitch of dark that sews through me.
And through the day, and winter, and this park. 

She lunges, prances through the dingy banks 
after twerpy squirrels hell-bent on nuts. 
She loves nothing more than this game, in this 
dark and ruinous place. To run, to jump, to find —
never to yield. 

And by all the dreary gods if she didn’t, in a flash
of one squirrel-obsessed moment, cock her head toward me and whisper: Your move, Dad. Let’s play.

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