No neat bales tally the end of winter’s ledger.
Instead, my father’s dog, an arabesque
in white, whirls in the haze grown two feet tall.
The setter who always points his target
cannot find his master. Late afternoons hereafter
we’ll see what we’ve been navigating in the dark.
Indoors, a pointer patterned in green toile’s
the only thing that hunts. It holds its point
on grouse, mid-flap, aloft on curtains, walls,
or bedspread folded at my father’s feet this year.
Too soon he will be scattered far from here
in another field with neither dog nor me.
But here in branching dusk his dog alights,
content to flush whatever birds bed down.
He sees no absence where none yet exists,
and so he stalks the grass as he was taught
while in my father’s room small rabbits dart
and pheasants burst repeatedly to flight.
Jennifer Key is the author of The Old Dominion (University of Tampa). She currently holds a John and Renée Grisham Fellowship in poetry at the University of Mississippi. Her work has appeared in Callaloo, The Carolina Quarterly, The Antioch Review, and Poetry Daily. Her honors include a Diane Middlebrook Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin and a Henry Hoyns Fellowship at the University of Virginia.