restless dogs, lost or abandoned, wait
for sunrise when shelter doors open.
barks and whimpers echo, competing
for the wandering eyes of potential parents.
shepherds, labs, terriers, and boxers peer
through cold, cramped kennels with you.
your eager tongue kisses passing fingers
through bars, hoping your love can be enough.
your dirt-caked fur, revealed ribs, splayed paws -
a glimpse of the battles you’ve fought.
I kneel and offer my palm before opening
the crate. Wire door creaks as it swings,
inviting you into my arms. Beneath black
and white flecked fur, scabs form on your neck.
Families gawk and giggle at wagging tails.
Your eyes plead for compassion. You wiggle
into my heart as your head nuzzles my shoulder.
I smile. I have to take you home. Your cry quiets
as I scribble my signature - a promise
for homemade meals, cozy beds, a best friend,
sheer love, and not another moment of hurt.
I carry you away, knowing you will save me, too.
Makaila Aarin works as an academic librarian in Mississippi where she lives with her three rescue dogs. She holds degrees in English, library science, and education. Currently, she is pursuing an MFA in creative writing. Her poetry has appeared in Prismatica Magazine, Stone of Madness, Glitch Words, Tipping the Scales, Poetically Magazine, and other magazines. Her work is forthcoming in The Rainbow Poems and Sinister Wisdom. Find her on Twitter: @makaila_aarin