Old Dog at Night

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The old dog mewls at the back door frozen shut—I cannot open it to show him there’s nothing out there—and so he moans like the humpback whale spinning slowly on its flukes six hundred feet deep amid the blackest blue, pearling the abyss with spiral song rising into a congeries of stars spun from their dark center, notes lonely and pure as the last castrato soaring the silent night, silence that seems as cruel then as now, in this dog’s last December. But look how he pauses and tilts his head to listen, then begins again, as if he were the one answering the song that is already there, hidden among the secret frequencies, melos quiet as the fern tingling its green fingers in April rain as the dead earth wakes once more. And so the old dog whimpers and keens and sometimes simply stares in sympathy with the sad beautiful things of this world for which I lack, for which he has, the softest silken ears to hear.