The Sled Dog
He was a weather-toughened, soldierly sled-dog
used to long, torturous runs
and the confusion of human hands and voices
unpredictably kind or harshly cruel
since the days he was a pup.
He pulled his heavy burdens of past and present
as if they were part of his own being,
part of his own thoughts and memories,
and as if the other dogs were merely
part of that burden to be endured.
He loved running
and the illusion of freedom it gave him.
He even almost loved the female he’d just mated with
but it left him feeling too vulnerable, too open,
as if exposing his underbelly
to hungry wolves and vicious dogs
sure to take advantage of any perceived weaknesses.
It was just too dangerous
to allow himself to love and trust her.
He’d known countless unspeakably painful betrayals
and savage attacks in his pup days,
and so surrounded his heart
with protective blocks of ice and rock.
If she dared try to penetrate that barrier,
he’d punish her with swift blows and surly snarls.
How he loved running
and the illusion of freedom it gave him!
June, 1992 revised April, 2004