Monday, November 12, 2012

Poem: Election Day

Election Day
I mailed in my ballot, so while
America lined up to vote
and another storm bore down
on an already battered east coast
I took my new dog for a walk
on a local trail that weaves
up, around and through an old ranch
a few miles from the coast.
Not much rain yet, but the first green shoots
of new grass colored the dry
leftovers of summer beneath blue skies
and an unseasonably hot sun.
Kona, a long tall mix
of border collie, shepherd
and who knows what else,
rescued from the local shelter,
loped and sniffed ahead of me
when I let her off the leash,
her ears up and alert,
nose twitching, head swiveling
with the arrival of each
new sound and smell.
Suddenly, a ground squirrel
chirped and darted across the trail
and before I could catch her
Kona chased her prey
down the hill to the arroyo,
bounding like a wolf.
Seconds later, the chirp
became a frantic squeal
and Kona emerged from the ditch
shaking her head fiercely,
the squirrel limp in her mouth
as she trotted up the hill toward me,
head up proudly as if to say,
“Look what I did!”
It was then I saw the coyote
a little farther ahead and above the trail,
watching the scene below her
like a bystander at an accident.
Kona obeyed my command
to drop the fat, dead squirrel
and I quickly leashed her
just as she, too, saw the coyote
and surged against her restraint, wanting
to chase it through the tall brown straw.
Unalarmed, coyote trotted along
ahead of us, its compact tawny body
Appearing and disappearing
in the camouflage of its natural environment
for the next fifteen minutes
until it calmly drifted over a ridge.
Distracted by birds, more squirrels,
a shallow creek, Kona soon forgot
her wild kin, lost in moments
of ever changing stimulus
smiling in that way
that only dogs do
when life is good
and their instincts are on fire.
Meanwhile, at the polling stations,
people waited patiently in long lines
to vote for a leader who would guide them
through the gathering storm.