Casey Thayer

Love Poem With Ore Dock and Dog

So you return to that beach where you buried a man
        chin up in sand and began to love

his dog. Same cloud cover and curled horn of the cliff
        you threw yourself from each spring. Same cove

and clear water, ghosts of divers pocketing rocks
        beneath the ice. So you turn up your collar and curl

a phantom leash around your wrist. You, who led the collie
        before you became the collie charging every dog

for a mouthful of neck fur, a little bit of blood. Before
        you wanted to worry every kneecap to bone.

Your man had a longer history with coffee and canines
        than he did with you. So after he left, you

sent postcards. You wiped the world’s deepest lake
        from your eyes and trailed him through the desert,

another man gone in the dust storms of your life.
        If he taught you to rush your cell phone

in hope and cup cigarettes in the shell
        of your hand against the wind, no matter.

You never loved a man but loved his boots
        ankle-bent at your bedside and the beach sand

his dog tracked in. Sand you combed through,
        and up came trinkets: playing card, nose ring,

rusty hook. How funny. Your life an island of rock,
        and you, so sure you were getting somewhere.