Losing the Dog

I wake before sunrise and make a torch of it
shoving the dog in the boot of the car
pissed-on rope, cracked cagoule, there is no flask
for tea, just me and my red-rush of will
of light ellipsis, on the still
mountain summits, and the coming
flat edge of conference
calls, post-its, emails, bibliographie

It is too early for the radio
so the engine stirs past farmland
and dog walkers scurried in fleeces, dedicated
fell-runners, comrades of the moss-offering,
cutting a swift toward the day as butter
on hot toast thick beyond the valley-carried
yelps and whines, the purgatory howls of our dogs
dying to be released

In the mildew I catch glint of his eyebrowed frown,–does he
smell where we are going this time around?
                                                                         A crow
is on the loose, crests the air illegal
arches over a traffic light into brambles,
hawthorn, sycamore, beech, larch, copper of a red
non-flowering morning, he thinks
for less than half a minute
I have abandoned him squat
weeing by the car on my own boot
onto the shallow lip of the lake

We pick our dateline along
between the bins and the shore
that does not lap, peeing on trees,
rocks, mollusc links, crustacean tracks
just some black block of reflective
meaning-imbued fluidity
liquid clod of power, flood-piety
passing the red of its spread on all sides of me,
the dancing blip of my headlight swing

He does not think any of this,
merely strips himself of my hindrance
sluggish embarrass of humanness, and runs
blue-black eyes upon the cliffs, swift whip of legs
vicious unrealised teeth gnashing
the wind, tongue-lashed cheeks that soft me
every evening, filed claws, vet and dental bills,
all pouring toward the flood-floor, while
I watch it from the shore, say nothing
let it happen to me

PENNY NEWELL has a PhD from King’s College London. Her poetry and reviews have been published in Hobart, The Emma Press Anthology of Love, The TLS, The Cardiff Review, and Alien Mouth, among others, with work forthcoming in 3:AM and The Portland Review. She is currently a commissioned writer for Lakes Ignite 2018 arts festival in The Lake District (UK) and runs the Cumbria Stand Up to Racism Network.