the mangy, rheumy-eyed and rawboned stray
limps sniffing toward you while you scan the map.
your choice - stay on this catwalk, feeling trapped,
or gamble on the thicket? hard to say
which path has fewer dogs, and your delay
has roused a few from their accustomed nap.
your wife storms off, her nerves and patience snapped;
you realize you’ve failed to lead the way.
corrosive burden, knowing that you might -
in spite of all your efforts to prepare -
when loved ones are in danger, hesitate;
today, the harmless dogs recede from sight,
but what you didn’t do hangs in the air;
unbearable, irrevocable weight.