Towards a Theology Based on Labrador Retrievers

My favorite black lab

Towards a Theology Based on Labrador Retrievers

This appeared in Poetry Northwest, and The Gospel of Galore.

I am arguing in the affirmative: that the Creator moves among us today
in Brooklyn, in the form of a black dog named Addie. Her benevolence is deeper
than the farthest foxhole, her gentleness thick as husky fur. Were she human,
she would sort and fold strangers’ clothing at the laundromat. Were she only a dog,

she would not fetch without being asked. There is abundance in her, like the butterfly
laying its eggs midair. Bountiful and democratic is her spirit: she licks my hand
like a spa treatment, she sleeps, calm back flat by my flank, breathing like a separate sea.
She dreams of the squirrel’s flicking, scolding tail, its visible neener neener neener.

Her vengeance is quick and awful. Yet love of fellowship runs in her blood,
her song like the bird’s that is only heard among other birds. She has taught me
the help given to the soul by the mile-wide lawn dotted with trees, by the tossed scrap.
I believe in her greetings, in the wide-maple way she roams from one scent to another.

Bury me in this part of the park where the dogs run without leashes, mix my ashes
with hers. Shield us in our joy, o protector, o collar. Let her true heart be contagious.

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