Joy, by KB Ballentine
Mud crusts her paws, silky underbelly
matted with knots, tangles of gold caked brown.
She whines, nudges my face as I bend to brush
away the labor of her day. She squirms
under my touch and gnaws a twig, pieces
of bark stuck to her muzzle. Day uncluttered,
unconcerned, she lopes through leaves,
dodges joggers, licks the kids’ faces.
She sees a squirrel and give chase,
barks a warning and a greeting.
Her head lolls, tongue flapping, as I scratch her sides.
Her panting eases, and she snuffles
before her eyes close, tail twitching in ecstasy.
Would that I could breathe so free —
to greet strangers as friends, find happiness
in a broken stick.