At the Animal Shelter After Dark, A View of the Pacific

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At the Animal Shelter After Dark

From the deep end of the unlit parking lot the full moon looks savory as a macaroon. Clouds too thin to conceal anything sweep along, drooling snowflakes that burst against my upturned face.

You prefer waiting in the light cast from the shelter doorway. We’re planning to adopt a cat, but because of the pandemic the shelter can accommodate only one couple at a time.

The cold shrugs through me with sobs of self-pity. Two dumpsters loom in the dark, green steel, monumental, Egyptian with emphatic form.

We’ve already lost our turn to an eager young pair so cat-hungry we have to question their mutual sanity. You watch through the glass door as they fuss over paperwork, their forty-dollar adoption fee already laid out in plain cash on the counter.

I’d rather watch the moon leer through the vague and restless sky. It often illuminates body parts daylight hardly ever encounters.

Not tonight, though. Too cold for noodling in parked pickup trucks or lying in grass by the river. At this far end of February snow sulks two feet deep in meadows. The ice on the lakes is thick enough to discourage even fisherfolk who arrive with gas-powered drills.

You gesture for me to join you inside the shelter where a cat lately abandoned needs us to encourage a healthy appetite and growth of a richer pelt.

The moon looks too aloof to notice whether I’m watching it or not. Willing to transcend my species, I follow you indoors where the brilliant lamplight washes away the worst of my sinful thinking.


A View of the Pacific

A footbridge spanning a gorge a thousand feet deep, a strip of chromium river wrinkling as it shrugs itself out to sea.

The Pacific lolls stark naked with its favorite birds clinging. Inland, the river source tinkles down a far-off mountain slope.

Let’s join the other tourists and browse across the bridge with only casual glances down. Yes, I know you need photos

to prove that this earth-slot exists, but better to buy a postcard than risk the vertigo for which old-timers like us are famous.

Rather than lean over the rail and look down I stare straight west to the aqua sea horizon misting the curve of the planet.

We mustn’t risk falling that far into the open maw of the world. The ocean doesn’t know we’re here, sparking across this little bridge

with its massive overview. The great bulk of water ignores us and goes about its sloppy business, trespassing on our properties

without the slightest taint of motive. I’d better look inland where folded hills look as cozy as fat people after a meal.

You can look anywhere you want, but please keep away from the rails and don’t let the drop to the bottom maim everything we stand for.

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