His Opus

from Moraine

Dog peruses the oleanders,
prodding with his body among
the poisonous leaves, lifting scent
into his snout through the trembling
black doors of his nostrils. He gives
every plant this close reading, ponders
each one, and the stolid lamp posts,
the hydrants, the bottlebrush’s wizened
bark. Go, I tell him, You haven’t peed
since sunset yesterday! I lead him
to the old familiar places but they
won’t do. He looks at me, his eyes
mutter something about a muse,
and I understand. We cross the street
to the homes with lawns and again
he is reading the complex layers
of scent left by his peers on lawns,
on trunks of birches, eucalyptus.
That’s it. Enough! I say, guiding him
back toward home. Finally in dry weeds
behind a palm tree the muse speaks;
Dog balances on three legs to compose
his latest opus.