Dog

I drove past a dog mangled
in the middle of a busy street,
the asphalt a pillow for its head,

its front paws stretched across
the dashed yellow line
separating one way from another.

I did nothing, not even turn off
the radio, but kept driving,
one more car in an unyielding

noisy procession of cars,
the dog vanishing with the horizon
in the rear view mirror.

And now? Now I think
the traffic poles were trees
and together with the street lamps

they made a forest blazing
with the silent fires of autumn.
There was so much quiet

the falling leaves were startling
and if the ants and worms
could have spoken

I would have heard them.
Come to think of it
I’m sure I heard the unchanging

music of water, a nearby river
or stream, a sound no different
than the sound of traffic.

And if there was a truck rumbling
across a bridge it was thunder,
and lightning was the flash

of high beams, and a driver
beeping back at another
was an owl making a noise

and another replying.
It’s even possible rain was falling
to baptize the animal into

its new life, and now
there’s no doubt:
I stopped, I moved the dog,

I stood there a while.
And when the sun burst forth
to astonish everything in sight—

or the moon, either would be fine—
the world whispered, Now, now,
you’re not alone.