Perilous Joy

by Mathew Paust

If I could see his smile I would see its difference

from the one that brightens his face

when his claws through the frozen ground

reach the pecan he'd buried in fall

I would see its difference from his smirk

inches from the snapping jaws of the pit bull

at the end of its chain

I would see its contrast from his poker face

as, clinging to bark, he circumvents the tree

keeping just out of sight of the boy

chasing him 'round and 'round

I imagine the triumph radiating now as he sits

equidistant from the ends of the wire over the street

bush tail beside him his closest comfort next to the genes

that gave him the fearless balance permitting the joi de vivre

He flashes at me through the windshield

passing beneath