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1. Faith

by
 "I've been having these
awful dreams, each a little different,
though the core's the same-

we're walking in a field,
Wally and Arden and I, a stretch of grass
with a highway running beside it,

or a path in the woods that opens
onto a road.
Everything's fine, then the dog sprints ahead of us, exicted; we're calling but he's racing down a scent and doesn't hear us, and that's when he goes onto the highway.
I don't want to describe it.
Sometimes it's brutal and over, and others he's struck and takes off so we don't know where he is or how bad.
This wakes me every night, and I stay awake; I'm afraid if I sleep I'll go back into the dream.
It's been six months, almost exactly, since the doctor wrote not even a real word but an acronym, a vacant four-letter cipher that draws meanings into itself, reconstitutes the world.
We tried to say it was just a word; we tried to admit it had power and thus to nullify it by means of our acknowledgement.
I know the current wisdom: bright hope, the power of wishing you're well.
He's just so tired, though nothing shows in any tests, Nothing, the doctor says, detectable: the doctor doesn't hear what I de, that trickling, steadily rising nothing that makes him sleep all say, vanish into fever's tranced afternoons, and I swear sometimes when I put my head to his chest I can hear the virus humming like a refrigerator.
Which is what makes me think you can take your positive attitude and go straight to hell.
We don't have a future, we have a dog.
Who is he? Soul without speech, sheer, tireless faith, he is that -which-goes-forward, black muzzle, black paws scouting what's ahead; he is where we'll be hit first, he's the part of us that's going to get it.
I'm hardly awake on our mourning walk -always just me and Arden now- and sometimes I am still in the thrall if the dream, which is why, when he took a step onto Commercial before I'd looked both ways, I screamed his mane and grabbed his collar.
And there I was on my knees, both arms around his nieck and nothing coming, and when I looken into that bewildered face I realized I didn't know what it was I was shouting at, I didn't know who I was trying to protect.
"

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