I've drawn a small dog that lives in my hand where my fate & heart lines cross to make a secure fence. It wanders, well-fed and watered, along the plains of Mars & buries its business under flakes of dry skin. I think it is happy; it thinks it wants to leave. No amount of barking disturbs my sleep. It says, "Why am I here?" I say, "Because I'm bound to keep you." It appeals my affectations. It says, "I have Buddha nature. " I say, "Then you're already free." When it tries to outsmart me with puzzles, asking, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" I say, "What is the sound of two hands clapping?" Then it begs me to stop. If it could leave, what would my small dog do? It lives at hand—the hand would have to go with it. And the arm, & the torso it's attached to. The small dog pulls. I follow like a leash. My feet stumble involuntarily from tree to tree in the county park, my dog sniffing other dogs' pee scent through my skin. There are others, dog people all, drawn from tree to bush to signpost. That cat person there thinks we're petting these things, calming the kami inside them. She thinks she is free from obsession, but I know better. See the way her hand lifts, pointing intently, tracing the line of a red wing blackbird as it skits from branch to branch, settling on a wavering cattail stalk, then disappears into the forest at the other end of the pond.
Roger W. Hecht teaches literature and creative writing at SUNY, Oneonta. His first poetry collection, Talking Pictures, was published by Cervena Barva Press. His work has recently appeared in A-Minor, Diaphanous, Sheila-Na-Gig, Yes Poetry and Prick of the Spindle. He lives near Ithaca, NY.