You followed me down a weedy brick path on a steep hillside
In Samsun, Turkey,
The wind swirling around us like a dervish.
I heard the soft tattoos of your padded footfalls
Tap out a warning before I turned to look at you,
Remembering the advice of a friend:
"Don’t pet the dogs around here," He said, "They run wild from the
Villages. It’s best to avoid them."
So I did.
But first I saw the wind lift the delicate hairs of your white fur
As if it could almost taste them,
The wolfish aspect of your hungry face
With one paw raised whenever I stopped to look back at you.
What did you want to ask me, dear fleeting ghost?
Could I have answered you?
Why does fear keep turning into sorrow?
When I reached the highway, I didn’t look back again.
Instead I took the crumbling sidewalk into town.
How could we know I’d be pulling you off the road an hour later,
Feeling the seeping tug of your perfect limbs
As I laid you down beside it like a shattered offering?
You looked like you were about to smile,
Licking the pink ribs of your mouth with the furl of your tongue.
Now I wish I had reached out to you,
I wish I had tried to say something to you, even it,
The Turkish word for dog.
I wish I had told you how shining you were on that barren hillside,
Following me like the glow of a flickering candle–
How I came to almost love you in the closing gap between us,
How even before you were killed I knew I would not forget you.
Instead I’m side-swept by a sudden, lonely grief
That takes me all the way down to the Black Sea
Out into the sky beyond on the updraft of a question
No one can answer, with just a shred of passing cloud
To lay bare all there is.