A dog ran through the park. He was not a dog but a man in a dog mask. His handler tossed a ball, and he fetched. He acted like a dog and wore that face.
The human face hooded by leather and zippers fashioned into a yawping muzzle, the eyes expressive of what is felt. Across the green the dog with the body of a boy on all fours. Away from his handler and back. His handler tickled his ear.
The dog rolled over to expose his belly. The handler rubbed the dog as a dog handler would before snatching the ball and tossing it, farther than he had before. The dog took off after the ball, in search of the affection to come.
Good boy. The leather hood bobbed as the dog trotted back to his handler; the metal bits of his harness and collar jingled.
Each wore their face. Each adhered to the set of rules agreed on in advance. Is this not a start? To define what is wanted from another, from oneself, one has to pretend to be the desired. It was getting late. Neither wanted to stop. It was too dark, so they agreed, a final toss.
The dog bolted. The face his face. The two as one. Running across the park, how beautiful he was, how beautiful the handler running after. Like men and not, like dogs and not, like chasing the one chasing the other chasing the mutable night.
About Brian Clifton
Brian Clifton is the author of the chapbooks MOT and Agape (from Osmanthus Press). They have work in: Pleiades, Guernica, Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill, Colorado Review, The Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other magazines. They are an avid record collector and curator of curiosities.