I never saw the Siberian huskies
next door to my grandmother’s backyard.
Corralled in their thirty-foot run, they paced
their portion of the West Palm suburb.
Each summer, I saw only their silhouettes,
filtered through the cracks in the picket fence,
a zoetrope clicking through splintered motions.
I remember the broad faces of hibiscus blooms,
the banyan tree’s fingers pressing the ground,
toads squatting in gutter buckets and the hiss
of the screen door spring and those humid hours
when stillness made my childhood stall.
But mostly, I recall the sliced outline
of dogs bred to bound through snow.
I could feel their fur tremble in the Arctic wind
and the tug of the sled over tundra.
They should have been all teeth and tongue and tail,
playful snarl and sleepy sigh.
But they were only shadow and bellow,
the most mournful yodeled howl I ever heard.
Their baying broke hot molecules of air,
air that would have glittered over snowdrifts
but here hung heavy over cracked patio
and the Norfolk pine in the front yard
standing guard like a Christmas monolith,
its shadow stretching with the afternoon.
Sara Smith Andress has English degrees from Florida State University and the University of West Florida. She lives in Milton, Florida, with her husband, two daughters, and fifteen chickens. She teaches composition and literature to community college students. Teaching, writing, and feeding people tend to make her happy, though she practices each with varying ratios of joy and frustration.