for Nate Pritts
Running with his dog, Matt Hart sucks in
big hunks of frosted air and then forces them back out
like barely visible tufts of pink cotton candy,
like apple blossoms twisting in the wind, like
shadowy clouds of flying red ants and
a million or so unfinished projects.
He runs as fast as he can (mainly because
he hates to run), then stops to walk and catch,
again, his breath. But Daisy keeps going, going,
gone, until jerking at the end of her adjustable lead,
she turns with a look of sympathetic exasperation
saying, C’mon c’mon c’mon, let’s run fast
again, grrr! look at that sparrow, that mailbox,
that squirrel, let’s stick our head in this pile of leaves,
this one right here, then fling ’em around, fall down
roll over run off with this stick . . . And so it goes.
It’s December and Matt Hart just had another birthday.
36, he thinks, and divides it by three, and doubles it,
and starts running again taking a deep breath;
he wonders, as he often does, about the finish line,
the one which is his own yard, his front door, but also
the one he’s seen in his mind, never for long and never
for real, but that one, which, when it occurs to him, stops him
in his tracksuit. Sometimes, he thinks Daisy sees it too.
Unlike him though, she runs for it as hard as she can,
There it is there it is there it is, let’s go!
But he can’t “let’s go,” can’t get over all
the things he doesn’t know: How will it feel
to vanish? Will Daisy get a bone?
Will anybody be waiting there to greet them?