Walking Dogs in an Illinoisan Fall

Vassily Kandinsky

We used to walk local shelter dogs in the fall.
One of them had to stop every few yards to pee. 
We didn’t mind, & neither did the other dogs.
We were all in this together, six weeks before 
the frost. We grew tired of collecting, of eating
ramen, of presences we felt in our alone moments.
We knew that despite the smell of the paper factory
from an adjacent town, despite how many people
had been shot under the world’s largest ketchup bottle,
Southern Illinoisan fall felt so right, & we knew
we had the best leaves. Then we had the best exits. 
Flutter & surge are cousins. Our steps felt
so permanent. We could see in front of us.
Looking back, we could see all the way
to the trains. I don’t want to remember 
famous battles. I don’t want to name
the parts of a crossroad flower. I want
to memorize the sound of every train,
to know it miles before it knows I’m waiting.
I want to howl, but only once the dogs begin to howl.

David Rawson is the fiction editor for South Broadway Ghost Society and is the author of Proximity and A Jellyfish for Every Name (ELJ Editions).

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