That's the moon.
Take your forefinger and thumb and make a circle around it.
Who knows that time doesn't stop? Not you.
That wasn't always true.
No matter how noisy or numerous the the watchers, other animals full of night roamed amid us and what we held, circling, eating, watching, running. Yours meant nothing to the starving, edging too close, twitching with terror, one moment beyond prudence.
Just wait. Be so, so still.
One buck and five deer with fawns step with deliberate feet through and by. Look to the right or the left. They bend their heads to the places your hand has rested, and wait through the heat of the day beneath old apple trees forgotten in your neighbors' back yard, in the clusters of low pine and hemlock all curtained with pincherry nightshade along the alleys, all of the deer soft breathing the day and soft exhaling the smell of crushed grass and sour milk, home where you live.
This is true. Listen. Animals from the stories your mother read you are asleep deep in tangled gloom, circle once, circle five times around, sleeping in the softest strands of deep green grass, the kind that grows in the margins between blackberry tangles and the objects their thorns devour. Make your circle around the moon.
When night comes, foxes and bobcats and cougar and coyote and dogs and loping wolves come to break the necks of fool animals who let themselves in too close to you. Animals with the expectation of of a next day will end their lives in diminishing gasps being carried off to secret places. Now think of the stars reflected in their eyes or the moonless night. Make a circle around the moon and hold it in one place.
Wild is what cats stare at when you think there's nothing there. Consider how their claws sheathe in a curl like their kin, who roam in the same ways and hunt in the same ways for blood and meat. They draw dark alongside your garage and stop-
The cat you feed is deliberate and swift making mysteries and unexplained disappearances, peace behind their eyes as they watch you fill the dish.
All cats from all families are one cat gone down ravines, complaining of their love up draws and drawing thin silver v's through the grasses toward the places where they bide. That's cats.
Listen. This is about dogs. Moon dogs. Calling dogs. Silent dogs listening. Roaming determined dogs wearing the nonchalance of freedom that look you in the eye with cool minds. These are your fellow citizens, neighbor.
Dogs flow with the wind on their own errands.
Think hard about what dogs mean, in words you won't listen to, the story of generations after generations of shunned dogs, abandoned dogs, lost dogs, tame, gone hungry and semi tame, raised less tame, noticed by nobody yet walking, nosing, going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.
Everything is black when a cloud hides the moon.
You should look for where people you forget make homes. Wise nimble-minded dogs full of luck and worn deep around their throats with old collars and with battered tags that clatter remember.
Mice will come. The same mice so dear, the same mice on the grass with broken spines with their small paws folded like praying.
Rats dart and snatch. Rats are greed and breathe blood. Their teeth curl downward toward bone. Break open the roof of their caches and see! Small gold stones.
Crows cut like scissors.
Ravens tear and sideslink heavily just out of reach.
Cars drive over a bridge.
Behind the smile of that dog, those are teeth, and they grab and snatch fast, you see, the wind of their going blowing from when outlier dog-wolves and slinking starved bitches in milk, wolves who ran to save their skins, circled the dimness and swallowed and swallowed in anticipation. Smelling, one eye cautious, skittish, maybe toward where a special animal warmth like a moon waits just past the edge of the safe.
We don't own the advantage: the consensus, the democracy of pheromones.
What we have is height and the predators' face forward sight and the memory we want, of good dogs who lived in homes and obeyed a voice.
Not all memories tell you what you need.
Look at where you don't look. Black bears hide the day away beneath abandoned cars and holes torn jaggedly around the tangled roots of downed trees, half drowsing, waiting for the night-damp to sharpen the smells of the heaps they prowl around and over and through, rooting and straining with bold black claws for caches of things that are spoiled and soft and fat with grease. Black bears are stealthy walkers and sliders and whisperers through twigs and crackling frost kill and the grassed brush on the margins of trails meandering through your town, your suburb, your development, eating the food you waste and remembering the taste of your hands and mouth.
Up in the top of a tall tree bark colored owls tear strips from prey held fast in one fist, and their gaze turns to you. Silence, one hook and eight knives, an owl.
Patient pale owls watching from empty rectangles in city buildings, generations raised in the rising frost of spent feathers and the pin bones of bats, in lath-fallen rooms and stairwells and high in blind tin architraves. They fly down the narrow hallways white, out into the blizzards of moths and bats around the street lights.
Did you know that the moon was shining when the imagos split and moths came out of the dirt to fly in confusions and clouds?
These things see.
Cats see, and the smart ones darken away fast, fast between the wheels of cars, fast in front of bicycles, only a fast line moving across a two lane road from one ditch to the next. Cats see from trees and windows, smart covered corners where they are just another shade of grey on black, a pile of leaves, and they see, and they run fast, climb fast and go quiet. They see where deer have walked and look over their shoulders, and run from darkness to darkness.
Let go of the moon.
Do nothing and don't wait. The soil will open.
Do nothing and don't wait. The three families of dogs circle you and circle you.
Do nothing and don't wait. The cats will rouse from their cautious sleep and escape before their betters.
Do nothing and don't wait. Larger presences are just outside the circle and they never learned to heed you.
Do nothing. Don't wait. The moon goes dark for two days in twenty-nine.