The Dog and the Lake

On nights previous, the dog has paced his owner's apartment, pissing on the blue carpet. He walks slowly between rooms, describing a dark map onto the floor. He is old, black muzzle, gun black eyes, sclera red, fatigued. He falls asleep on his owner's bed.

The lake is a destination for the dog. The eastern path to the lake is a steep ascent up moss-molded, lichen-abstracted stones. The western path to the lake is long, though gradual, more accessible. The trail is stomped down consistent with boot prints and the sign of deer and porcupine. Approaches, rims lake's edge, proven.

The dog walks to the lake, sticks his nose in the water, his tongue, lets the water ease into his mouth. Then he wanders around the lake. The wind runs vague washboards across the surface of the lake, troubling duckweed into clumps. Around the perimeter of the lake, the dog walks, disappears into the balsam, drags of hemlock, white spruce. Quills, bark, needles, rustling.

I never saw the dog in his prime, when he, no doubt, used to take off hard after a squirrel, ringing it a couple of times around the base of a tree, playing it by the tail; roved fleet through tall grass, fireflies winking on and off like false garlic flowers catching the glint of the setting sun; nosed along the driftwood in the harbor, pushing forked limbs into yellowing seafoam.

The assurance of his paws on the carpet, then his body, his snub tail. His urine strings a dark and ragged line around the apartment. He has fallen asleep on his owner's bed. His memories are old, breath labored.

Three cattails stand apprehensive; a forth is bent at the waist, as if stooping to inspect a bug. A soft boil of leeches, like ghosts, trails through the water. The dog has come to the lake many times, has walked its edge. He has lapped at the water, has drunk it down. Later, he will lose focus. He will wander.

When he awakens, he will stare. Water is being poured into water, flushed; carpet meets linoleum, bunches up behind the couch, at the door; rolls into crumbs, saddles, spills; lights turned on. Once fed and collared, he will choose the gradual path, daylight gray, green.

About the author:

Brandon Shimoda has previously lived in a tent with his friend in a stand of paper birch trees in Maine. During the day, he dredged ponds for leeches, took showers in the college washroom, and worked at a day care center with two year olds. At night, he stuffed his wet socks into the bottom of his sleeping bag and listened to his friend Phil laugh in his sleep. He currently lives in Brooklyn, but has plans to return to Maine soon.