He died down in the everbearing roses.
-Maxine Kumin, “Woodchucks”
The beloved bedraggled mutt is all fringe and tongue,
mottled as the floor of a patch of forest. She knows
from the smells (green lawn clippings, chlorinated
hosewater, some woodsmoke in the air, and a tinge
of metallic blood) where the vole mother lay, bit
by lawnmower. Like the ache of a primal thing,
she knows exactly where the body lies. She follows
its scent, a blur of khaki camouflage zipping
across the complex grounds, away from her ward
who follows, shouting her name. But the smell
and the pounding impact of her feet on asphalt…
then feet on grass again, then shaken darting vole.
It’s not the dog’s fault–she was programmed to run,
to fit her neat teeth delicate around vole necks.
Just like the vole, in its way, knew to slacken
in those teeth–