The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 16 no. 2


D. Nurkse

Lovers In The Dark Woods


Heel, we said to the dogs, but we didn’t believe it, didn’t think they would ever return, that we had any power to make them or that they might choose to. But they came whirling back, given a few distractions, a goose turd, a dead robin camped behind its own stony eyes, not a thing, not a bird either.

Drop it, we said, we could hear the panic in our voices but it didn’t seem to affect them, they let the small stiff body go—another patch of snow would be forever—and arranged themselves in front of us.

Sit, we said, and they lowered themselves gracefully, in several stages, hampered by their tails, and stared at us with tolerant expectant eyes.

We searched in our pockets for a biscuit, certain they expected payment, that there must be a transaction. Wasn’t it we who had changed the climate, though for the moment even the occasional clouds, moored to the treetops, seemed frozen and on the point of shattering.

Venus shone like a bead of blood.

Secretly, we didn’t believe in the forest, so long hidden from us by nomenclature—club moss, shagbark—by the senses that mimic pine needle shadow, by the mind which is its own forking path.

The dogs so different from each other, the old one sardonic, the puppy adamant, certain of the cause. We so similar, lovers in the dark woods. The silence so insistent it hissed. A few flakes drifting, just enough to cover our tracks, as you might stop someone from blurting out a name, and no one to guide us home except a nibbled red ball.