Monday Morning

labrador retriever at 3:23 AM

the dog whines to go outside
i walk slow from my bedroom
down the steep steps
and he clumsily follows

“don’t knock me down
the goddamn stairs!”
i stage whisper
– he snorts

we emerge
into crisp Cleveland
he relieves himself
on the hydrangea bush

amber streetlights
illuminate the leaves
splaying patterns
across my pale limbs

cool air carries
close scents:
hot piss
a distant skunk

he smells the wind
and comes back inside
to drink water like a moose

my mind seeks
the gentle tones
of human voices
rustling in the treetops

i whisper back
to the breeze
“Stan’s a good boy”
and pet his velvet ears

he is already asleep
unfathomably peaceful
a cozy, rounded-corner
of blackness