This new dog lifts one cold paw
into the glove of her warm belly,
eyes asking why abandon
a blanket of down for one of snow.
I tug her leash and pull on
past the school and church
in line with a wedge of geese
honking I-told-you-sos overhead,
their taunts like those I remember
after bent-arm hangs and volleyball,
pecking order lines at gym mirrors,
high-school beauties with blue eye shadows
and sharp tongues holding forth
on the faces behind them,
a Simon Says of trash talk,
one girl forward, another back.
I cared too much once, not wanting
to be the lone goose on the back row.
Those dance queens, like me,
must think about those long-ago days,
before wrinkles creased our eyes
before nipples perky in vanity bras
drooped in the folds of our nightgowns;
youth and beauty double-crossed us all.
We lucky ones lived to suffer our losses.
We have what we made of things.
I have this wind sharp against my cheek,
the joy of found time in a snow day,
the love of this dog that trusts me
to lead her on until she understands.
Janet Reed teaches writing and literature for Crowder College in Missouri. She is a Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging flower child whose poems reflect conversations she has with voices in her head. She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in multiple journals, and she is currently at work on her first chapbook.