cold shoulder to prayer

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My eyes are frozen
My glasses fogged
I can’t see even though
It’s a sunny Colorado Day
The temps hover at 0
But there’s no wind
Yellow Dog braces me
As the sidewalk dips and sways
Curves, ices, twists
No need to struggle to see through
My hats, hoods, scarves.

My huge clunky snow boots
Keep me from feeling
Potholes, patches, sinkholes, turns
I grip tightly
As his thick harness and frozen leash
Lead on
He instinctively falls into his seeing eye dog role
We’ve practiced walking on ice
He slows when I slow
Counter balances when I waiver

Normally pulling and straining at his leash
He leans in close so I can feel his ribs along my knees
Rise and fall
Skate and skip
We maneuver through silent streets
Fog, mist of a ghostown
He knows his job
And he takes it seriously

Holding back the impulse to dart
After squirrels taunting him from the oaks

We’ve reached the open field
He laughs and talks a bit
In his yowling howling yaps.
I release his leash
I’m a leech pulled from him
He covers some ground
Like a pinto pony
He’s the same color as this earth
Copper and white
Reeds and snow
I can’t see him for the blinding glare
My useless glasses
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The empty leash feels lonely
In my hand and I strain to find him in the field
He’s turned back to check on me
Before I give him A signal to run
…toss a ball with a bit of crumpled snow and mud
” Go. Go” my hands speak for me
Because My voice is croaky
He’s been locked inside for days
He needs the run.
He blurs into the tumbleweeds and rushes

Already he’s reached the canal
I feel panicky without him to guide.
Me over
hidden prairie dogs caverns

My calls are muffled by three scarves
Rising wind. Rising panic
And a strange repetitious
cherclunk noise from sugar factory hydraulics

I’m starting to get really cold
I’m frightened without him
I can’t whistle, for I’m already
Feeling windburnt on my face
I can’t see him
And I start to cry
I call, cluck, clap,stomp
Why won’t he come?

My screams come out as little coughs of steam
He’s nowhere to be seen.
I drop into frosted weeds
My head in my hands

Like all my prayers screamed against the cirrusky
Unanswered
Silence is the response
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But He’s there. He reads my fear from 1000 feet.
‘I am here. Just reach out
When have I ever left your side?
Lets go home.
My paws are cold.’

He snuffs at my tears, shakes as if he’s been soaked.
He takes the leash into his mouth and tugs.
We stumble together along the iced railroad tracks.

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I wonder if I have some of those Pupperoni sticks.
He deserves a bagful.
I look down to make sure he’s there.
‘Wanna snack?’
He laughs
‘i was there all the time, ya know.’

I do now.

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