Richard Widerkehr

When You Ask About That Dream

Dog Lying in the Snow by Franz Marc

I’m lost in Yakima, but it’s more like New York.
As I trudge through abandoned buildings,
looking for my dog Zach, dead two years now,
things seem familiar, like a city
where I lost something—ashes,
a few small, cold stars.

A woman I don’t know
follows me through vestibules and alcoves
whose mailboxes have been jimmied out.
We heave open a wrought-iron door.
Zach hauls himself up when he sees me,
his fur matted, his body thin.
Absently, slowly, we walk down the street
as we did when the tumor
had weakened him. I hear a thud and turn.
Near a rusted burn barrel,
Zach’s lying in a hole in the ground;
I bend to help him. Low flames
lick at his fur, flicker down his side.
I pat at beige-and-brown patches

almost smoldering, put my arms around him,
feeling the strength across his chest
and shoulders, this fallen king,
a god in disguise,
who used to lie at my door like a sleepy lion,
who butted his head into my lap
when I worked at the typewriter,
who came whenever I asked.


About the writer:
Richard Widerkehr’s work has appeared in Open, Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, Atlanta Review, and others. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University and won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. His latest book is In The Presence Of Absence (MoonPath Press). His new book, At The Grace Cafe, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag. He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

Image: Hund im Schnee by Franz Marc (1880-1916). Oil on canvas. 24.6 x 41.3 inches. 1910-1911. Public domain.