Luna reclines on a windowsill keeping watch on the territory, her eyes flickering to movement — bird, leaf, walker, a grazing horse across the road. She ignores cars unless they belong to the Russian she first knew as a puppy and then rushes to the door and turns round and round in answer to her soft murmuring sounds.
Wolfie looks up from under two perfectly positioned yellow eyebrows, a dog wondering about the foolishness of men.
His epilepsy has retreated, but when a fit lands on him, he cleaves our sleep with a 3 A.M. scream and collapses. In his convulsions his bared teeth lash open and closed like white-traps set to high speed. Afterward, he and I walk the yard in dark silence. He keeps to the end of his leash until he knows my voice and has traveled back to himself.
I labor to bend their behavior: avoid cars, careful with the teeth, stay close, walk here. To them it must feel like a great circle of No. No groundhogs. No herding children. No rolling in shit, killing of cats, running away. Stay close. Walk here. Shun trucks too.
In training or chasing, they will hold in place with Wolfie so wired that in his prescient hunch I could run a plumb line straight and true from nub of tail to end of nose; Luna, seated, left paw up, ears up, her body oscillating with the strain of stillness.
Both have the BC* ‘eye’, that beam of intensity, the gaze that seeks to capture my hand’s poised uplift, my upper body’s prep for twisting to release the ball or walnut, stone, shell, twig, squeaking toy of any shape. Set free at Go, they switch from arithmetic to geometry instantly, from straight line to overlapping circles.
Run out, panting in the shade, the water in their bellies already bringing them back, we sit on the grass, at ease together, but a part of me never having grown beyond 12, I cannot help myself. After three or four minutes, I rise languidly, stretch extravagantly, and hesitant slow small step and step and step begin to walk away from them only throwing a look over my shoulder to catch them seeing me so attentively that just as I break into a clambering Frankenstein clumping run they charge to circle me, their voices so excited that oh I smile to be near them.
I read in bed before sleep but they curl next to me, their eyes narrowed to slits and their breath slowing, quieting until we are steadied together in the same silence. Now without guile they believe so completely as to make me ashamed of my own failures of love.
In the morning they will wind themselves up and all day swing their bodies to “Outside” and “Ride” and “Hungry” and one hundred other words. Their eyes will not leave us. They will walk with us. They will raise their heads to meet our hands which receive their blessing.
Left to right: mother, daughter, son, father, son; Masha, Luna, Omega, Shura, Wolfie