In the mirror, my mute double,
shadow of light, shadow of flesh,
greets me with a nod & a wave.
If I raise my finger to my cheek
he reaches toward himself
yet touches me, confirming my substance,
his existence, the spitting image
of an idea we have of ourselves.
And as he bares his teeth
for the hesitant smile prepared
for strangers introduced as friends,
I place him as the ghost twin
risen from my breath at birth,
dependent on my recognition
& my lead to help him to his feet.
Satisfied that time, a waterwheel
built of heartbeats, has not smoothed
our features into masks, we turn,
renewed, & stride away, feeling the other
has remained, watching as the fate
we carry on our backs walks away
from our past, & determined not to look.
To this day I still don’t know
what distemper is, but dog pounds
were, literally, hot beds of it, or so said
the vet, a careful, dispassionate look
in his eyes, when we brought our mutt,
who I’d named Starry because he was
white but not Whitey, in for a check-up.
Some days later—I soon lost count—
my mother told me she’d had him
put down & I was sad though uncertain
whether I was too old to cry or not.
Decades later, her eyes now welling up
once more, she told me she had held off
giving the vet the order quite some time,
it tore her up so badly. A week, at least,
or ten days, my mother explained softly,
fingering the bright charms dangling
from her wrist like dog tags as she spoke.
they come out of the turn onto
the straightaway—one, two, then a pack
faces lacquered with sweat
short, even strides
feet barely touching
ground, gliding toward a distance
always just beyond
© Sid Gold
Sid Gold is a two-time recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) Individual Artist Award for Poetry. His most recent book, his third, is Good With Oranges (Broadkill River Press, 2015) and he has poems in press at Gargoyle, the Free State Review, and Poetry Fix. He lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.