We found out years into our relationship that our Chief was once known as Oscar. This fits, his true name revealed. He spent most of his time trying to run—away from us, to us, with us, after trucks. Chief (a name also not of our choosing) was for someone boxy and solid. Our dog is lean, lithe, intelligent: very much an Oscar. He never ages.

Imagine our shock when the vet asked us how old he was and we automatically replied with “eight.” We realized, then, he has been eight for a long, long time. When we took the time to count, we realize he’s already 13. It strikes us how old that is for a dog, but how few years that really is.

It hardly seems fair to have so little time with our best friends. For the moment, Chief is still with us. We are trying to keep the farewell we know is coming hidden from him, but he knows, and we know he knows. We all try to savor this last bit of light before the sun sets.

A long time ago I was told I make far too much of things like this. I hope I always will. This is for Chief, and all the other dogs I’ve shared my life with. It’s always, always too soon.

Only Humans Love, and Other Bullshit Propaganda
a haibun

You, a slim crescent of shedding fur, irresistible to my wandering fingers, snout pressed up under my chin. Your adoration is palpable. Together, we are twins of separate species, warped together in the womb of hot afternoon, the fan lulling us with a low hum to create a sultry, artificial breeze that plays in slow waves on the mosquetera, a mirage escape from golden heat. Your puppy breath smells of sour milk, perhaps pee, an undefinable perfume, appealing beyond reason. The whole world naps, and we too slide under the spell of indulgent, wandering dream. This, for eternity…

…until the truth intrudes to prick the back of my eyes: this isn’t eternity. This luxury of time we share spins out like a car on ice, me powerless to slow ravenous death as it eats up your minutes too fast. I am the vampire, cursed with eternity as my loves line up to leave me, soft eyes saying final goodbyes, soft brows furrowed in concern at my sorrow as the sweetness turns to salt in my mouth. I scream, silently, crush down my breaking heart and get with the program because, they say, only humans love, and I make too much of such things. I kiss the top of your head, desperate to keep this, already feeling the passage of time taking you from me and I do make too much of this thing.

This sliver of now
is worth all the coming tears.
Miss you already.

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Ryukyuan-American, award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year, she shares Authortunities, a free weekly calendar of author opportunities at authortunities.substack.com.

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