Today's poem is by Benjamin S. Grossberg

Stepping on the Dog

The high squeal, the instant retraction
by throwing myself forward, falling

on to her, her small, vulnerable body,
which gives, which collapses

under my weight. The feel, the sound
of the collapse; my body

willing itself lighter, willing itself forward
beyond impact with an awful

miscalculation. This is the fear
that guides my steps after midnight

as I go upstairs to bed, when I am most
at peace in my silent, unlit house—

nearly unlit, only a single light,
a dim beacon in the corner by the door,

and on the dark ocean of the floor
she sails somewhere in a dream.

My footfall is powder, my footfall
a dusting of snow, sifted

confectioner's sugar, as I advance
toes first, my foot rolling back

to fill the limited space of each step.
In that silence, I am most proud, most

contented with my life: the small
miracle of having a home, the love

I have for it, and how my silence
seems to connect me to the silence

of plaster walls, of empty rooms,
and streets and cornfields beyond, as if

I were no different than them, as if
I belonged here just as much as they do.

But it is this moment, too, most
possessed by my fear. The dog

who is just a dog, and must be
in her own way a sturdy animal,

lies open, silent, perhaps stirred
by my footfall to the surface

of waking, but for all that, awake
or asleep, unmoving as I approach.

Which I do, gingerly, across two
darkened rooms, wholly possessed

in this moment of peace by the power
to crush what is most vulnerable.

Copyright © 2006 Benjamin S. Grossberg All rights reserved
from Quarterly West
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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