Walking My Dog Two Days after the Blizzard [poem] by Susan Gundlach

Forget the cliché-inducing kind of snowfall,
winter wonderland and all that, of Thursday.
Instead, picture this on Saturday:
A barely cleared sidewalk pitted with solid icy boot prints,
ankle-breakingly treacherous.
To the right, tall fences and hedges.
To the left a narrow parkway heaped with crusty knee-high snow.
Sort of a roofless tunnel.
No way for Zachary and me to escape when we see the outline
of another winter walker, a very tall man, with a big dog
approaching us from out of nowhere.
Their shapes fill the constricted walkway space,
their long shadows snaking ahead of them along the ground.
As the silhouettes draw nearer, I can see that one of them
is talking on a cell phone, seemingly oblivious
to the impending collision of dogs and humans.

I panic, and my dog and I leap sideways
into the huge snow pile bordering the street.
The oblivious man, unaware of the drama taking place,
passes us, engrossed in his digital world—not even a nod
to the pathetic, sprawling scene on his right, in which he has played a key role.
When he goes by, I hear him saying to the someone
on the other end of his conversation, “Well, put me down for that.
You know I lost $12,000 on the last one.”
$12,000? What has just happened? In my dazed and addled mind, I grope
for the right word to describe this story: numbing, annoying, dispiriting…?
I’m sort of hoping that the guy recoups his money,
or maybe that he meets up with an even taller man with an even bigger dog.
While Zachy and I stand up, climb out of our frigid blizzard trap
and back onto the iced-over sidewalk, ready to head for home,
I must admit to thinking, “At least I’m not out thousands of dollars.
And you can put me down for that.”

 

Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem refers to Brenda Miller’s essay “To Foster.”]

Image of Gundlach’s dog Zachary by the Author

Susan Gundlach’s poems have appeared in such journals as Dark Matter, Vine Leaves, The Middle Gray, Lingerpost, *82 Review, Referential Magazine, After Hours, and in the walkway of the Evanston Public Library—etched in stone, or cement, actually! Some of her poems for children can be seen in Cricket magazine. Currently, she is working on collaborations with artist and musician colleagues. She lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her family, human and canine.