He didn’t want to tell me. He almost didn’t.
It was luck much more than gut that made me ask.
A beer opened an hour earlier than usual,
the desire for conversation. There was no sense in me
that he was in some sort of aftermath.
He said, when I asked, I had a bad day,
or, I had a weird day, I can’t remember.
I saw a dog, he said. I was on the train.
A man with a dog on a leash. The man ran and made it
but the dog hesitated outside, and the doors closed—
no, not on his neck-on the leash, trapping it.
The man was inside, and the dog was outside on the platform.
The button beside the door, ringed in light, blinked.
The man was shouting now, hitting the button,
all else silent, the befuddlement
of dog pulled along, the pace slow until it wasn’t.
The tunnel the train must pass through leaving the station
is a perfectly calibrated, unforgiving fit.
The dog had a color and a size I don’t know,
so it comes to me as legion.
Large. Small. Fur long, or short. White, or gray.
But the man always looks the same.
As I held him against me in our kitchen,
the moment sharpened my eyes. How easily
I could imagine a version of our lives
in which he kept all his suffering secret from me.
I saw the beer on the counter. I saw myself drink it.
When we went to bed, I stared at the back of his head
split between compassion and fury. My nails
gently scratching up his arm, up and down, up and down,
the blade without which the guillotine is nothing.