As If

by Dana Levin

Dana Levin

I had a lot of time
on my hands.

So many minutes I couldn’t
give them away.

My natural sloth had ceased meaning.
So I turned to domestic


Tidying the pantry at midnight. I had

six boxes of gluten free penne. I had enough
rice and beans—

I’d had enough life, hadn’t I?
It was good to take stock, just in case.

I had enough scraps, of poems that went nowhere—I had enough

And there they were, the two Labs, on Mount Atalaya—
twenty years ago, maybe.

Black and yellow, stranger dogs without collar—
when I started hiking back down, they appeared.

Black sun and gold moon.

One on the left of me and one on the right.

Neither lagging much nor leaping ahead—

Sometimes they’d cross and re-cross in back
and in front of me, til it seemed we flowed down
like a braid.

And the male was the color of the deep well, and the female
the color of dry grass by its mouth—

Waiting, when I got to my car, panting and wagging—

As if I would take them to the water bowl, to the safe

I’d been hiking Atalaya—“watchtower" in Spanish.

Once, someone camped up there, looking for signs—

The smoke that meant fire.

The dust kicked up by the hooves of invaders.

The steam of a train stopped by men
turning the infected away—

The black dog behind me, nudging my legs.

As if I were a person who took care of other beings. Trust
like a terrible grace.

Last updated November 17, 2022