“Will they poison our dogs, too, Papa?” pipes up his elder puppy, a girl almost old enough to tolerate. “Like Guatemala City?” I can smell tears. She’s holding salty water in her eyes. That’s one of the weird things humans do when they’re sad. Roman looks sad, too. Something strange is definitely going on.
Her father soothes her, pats her paw. I’ve learned over the years that humans prefer that patting thing to nuzzling or nibbling. “Don’t worry, Christina,” he says. “That won’t happen here. Your papa worries more about guns. There are a few guns in town. And after a strange day like yesterday, who knows what could happen next? Saber? Better to be safe and stay indoors for a day or two.”
I nose around the kitchen and am thrown half a tortilla soaked in leftover pepian broth. I howl my thanks, making the human puppies laugh. Onward, I decide. There’s no way I’m going home just yet.
He sighed and raked his hands through his short hair viciously. “Get out of my head,” he whispered. Maybe if he said it out loud it would work.
Looking across the barracks to the water-clock on the wall, he saw it was only a few hours after he’d gone to sleep with the help of the tea Ghia had given him. He sighed, now too awake to go back to sleep.
Nor do I really want to, he thought as he rose from his rack and grabbed his towel. A brisk shower was in order.
How to Keep a Human
My puppyhood? You want stories from my puppy days? Don’t you want stories about your naughty mother? Okay…the good old days, so called…settle down, now. Cuddle close, and listen.
When I was born, I was supposed to be a City dog, yarded, penned, domesticated, petted, raced, brushed, doctored, inoculated, medicated, photographed, bedded down—a fancy-life canine. You little wolfy dogs wouldn’t even be here if Something Wonderful—and Something Terrible—hadn’t happened when I was just a baby.
No, I won’t tell you about the Something Terrible! Grandpaws aren’t supposed to scare the ears flat on puppies! Well, all right, the Something Wonderful, then. Just until you fall asleep.
Its muzzle was posed open in a silent snarl, its ears flattened back on its head, and it was made to look vicious around the eye’s epicanthic folds — but this was all a lie. She reached her hand up to touch the soft fur. It was too high up. She couldn’t reach.
She’d found her first Minae wolf.
The scent of fear and death hit her then; it had been masked before but now that she gazed upon the source it was so clear she reeled. She ran back into the stall and vomited what was left of that morning’s breakfast.
This wolf had died in fear and pain and she hadn’t been here to help.
All nights are not created equal:
clouds can blur the nuclear stars,
disturb the math of spring
Volcanoes heave up sulfur breath
left by other suns and seasons
The sea takes sorrows elsewhere,
pregnant with disaster
She starts, there is nothing to scare her.
The sky brightens
on her arm, purple welts
Notes, words ordered with song
all on one line
lilting lyrical instrument of soul and sass.