At the same time every morning
the lady brings her dog up the street.
Actually it's more that the dog brings her.
A big chocolate Lab, it lunges and snaps
the leash, jerking her arm out straight.
Sometimes it's a steady pull, the dog
straining as if it were a plow horse
and the woman leaning back, her weight,
slight as it is, working against the big dog.
She seems like someone fighting a big wind.
And every day, almost at the same spot,
the dog relaxes, goes into her squat.
The leash droops slack between them
and the woman looks off as though suddenly
struck by the color of a certain tree's bark.
She has the look of someone considering
the nature of the soul or of the afterlife.
She's honing in on it too. She's almost got it
figured out when the dog lurches up
and nearly jerks her down into its pile.
And now she draws a plastic grocery bag
from her pocket and covers her hand with it.
You don't need to watch this part.
Just know that she does it. For her kids,
maybe, so they can keep the dog. For her
neighbors. Perhaps for herself, her powerful
need of it, the animal caught on its leash.
Michael Chitwood has recent poetry in Field, The Christian Science Monitor, Shenandoah, The Sun, and other journals. He lives in North Carolina.