Hands folded between her knees,
the vet lists upcoming decision points:
when Buddy isnít eating any longer,
when he canít get up by himself,
when he needs bathroom assistance.
I try to read the dark
eyes, returning my gaze,
then ask for painkillers,
a new combination.
Leading him home,
fog obscures my view,
white and billowy, like smoke
from a doused fire.
I turn to the trees for direction:
sweet gum flares with fiery defiance;
vine maple flickers yellow, orange, crimson;
white oak, still in green denial,
ignores its smoldering edges.
I long for him
to go on his own,
like sweet gum, which drops
its foliage all at once.
I understand the oak, holding firmly
leaves, browned by necrosis,
fear the mapleís blood-red hands,
outlining my path.