So, I’m walking my dog, Melmud. I hear a robin calling, “Pierce t’whit,”
and look up towards it. The robin doesn’t notice, calls again. I fart
twice as I walk. Melmud doesn’t react to the sound or the smell.
We’re walking on pale, grey-blue concrete sidewalks. We pass some
struggling horse chestnut saplings; leaves rusted and withered under the
bright summer sun. In a few blocks, I turn uphill onto a dirt path.
There are three people ahead, two coming downhill towards me: a heavyset
man in jeans and a grey sweatshirt. He’s clutching his chest and
struggling with his breathing. The second is a woman in a yoga outfit,
purple and bright blue. The last: a child at the top of the hill in a
helmet, on a bike, looking around.
I want yoga woman. I don’t care for the man. Hillside of gravel and
withered stalks of grass. The child: probably waiting for his parents or
waiting for a friend to race.
I sidestep the fatty as he smells past me. I take my phone in my left
hand as the woman approaches. I pretend to be in conversation and laugh
into the air—smooth, Jason, smooth.
She takes no notice. I want to get back to my video game.
At the top of the hill, Melmud is engaged-sniffing the base of a bush,
pulling until his shoulder and neck bow. I see the pale-tan-green grape
of a two-day tick on him, behind his right ear, gorging on his blood in
microbursts. Right, I’ve got to get rid of that thing.
The sun on my neck is warm but receding. A gust of wind signals the
start of evening. I look back down the hill for the woman. Her
purple-and-blue disappears around the corner behind a yellow-and-orange
Victorian. Chances not taken.
That dog: the coat a flat sandy brown; brown as the day is long. Jason
imagines the bird’s thoughts: Where is my mate? Where are my rivals?
I must re-start my song.
Coffee-black-haired man coming up the hill with his eager dog. Does he
know there is a dog in heat nearby? No balls: a female or tossed in a
vet’s waste bin. This hill is going to topple me.
How am I going to get Gerry to exercise? Why doesn’t he like my soft
hands? Is it the lavender scent of my hand cream? That dog sees my
outfit as grey and darker grey. The dark-haired man steps aside for
Gerry. He laughs into his phone as he passes. No sound from the other
That dog must be thinking: What’s that smell? Is it food? Now me:
Where’s Johnny? We’re supposed to be exploring. I wonder what the dog
can smell on the metal of my bike?
Hound dog. Human. Pulling and sounds and smells. Townsend’s warbler:
unrecognized. Up the unpaved, everlasting hill. Dog head down.
Indifference, desire, rivalry. Decay. Ever-present hope for the future.
Physical pain for two. Visions of others, daydreams of other activities.
Anywhere but here. Excreta and kicking of earth. Minor irritant, major
Smelling and wondering and more anywhere-but-here. Then here. But not.
Desires drifting towards the sunset.