Old Dogs

WILDERNESS


although I lived
for over four years
in the Last Frontier
I never developed
into much
of an outdoorsman

I preferred
to spend
the majority of my time
hunkered down
in darkened bars
contemplating the workings
of our infinite universe
or more often
than not
thinking of nothing
whatsoever

I did however
venture out periodically
on unplanned excursions
of low impact hiking
all done in a day
or frequently hours
never roaming too far
from a comfortable perch
near a cooler
of cold beer

at Shoal Cove
my tentative wanderings
were limited to a system
of errant logging roads
affording me the chance
to experience Alaska
in relative ease
a neurotic
Labrador
my constant companion
and pathetic equal
in adventure

one Spring afternoon
while dodging bearshit
the woods full of them
that time of year
I saw the dog freeze
up in front of me
hackles raised
voice growling
a typical response
to ursine proximity

I stopped and peered
straight down the road
to where she stared
but saw nothing
not realizing
that the wind
was blowing
across our path
and not from
directly ahead

finally
aggravated by her distress
to an apparently
imaginary intruder
I yelled at her
to stop
the theatrics

the voice hardly cleared my mouth
when an explosion of motion
erupted to my left
some twenty feet away
as a crouching bear
crashed out of his
alder bush sanctuary
and scrambled up the slope
of a nearby hillside
the dog yelped
and bolted
blindly down the road
and I turned tracks
running madly back
toward our point
of origin

three cowards
avoiding confrontation
no one playing
the hero

later
the bear
back in his woods
the dog
sheltered safely
in her comfortable house
and me
resting in refuge
on a padded barstool
opting for adventure
out of a beercan
where dangers
of a different dimension
awaited
my approach