Harder and harder every year to turn crops into cash.
Harder to fill their own tables. Finally
they leave the farm for urban spaces
where they lock themselves in apartments.
The streets that stretch around them are not theirs,
and their dogs that ran through the fields
herding animals and scaring pests stretch out
across their living space. Useless, they are let go.
Nothing is easy for a migrant animal.
Concrete streets wear a dog’s padded paws.
Traffic lights ignore canine rhythms and colorblind eyes.
But people can be dogs’ best friends, especially
when friendliness doesn’t require much.
City dwellers build wooden doghouses in parks.
Buy potato-sack sized bags of dog food, plastic bowls.
Sometimes they pass the dogs on the corners, pause
to scratch their heads, throw a Frisbee, watch them run,
Name them like adopted children.
When the city decides these animals dig away
at the veneer of progress it sends Animal Control
to round them up, pack them in the truck, take them
where, unclaimed and unwanted, they are soon euthanized.
Children toss stones and curses at the death vehicles;
people frantically call and coax dogs with bones.
Hide the street dwellers in their homes. Los perros
survive as part of the cityscape. Its corners
and monuments claim them.
And the dogs’ owners? Do they look for their pets
when they walk the streets asking in restaurants,
waiting on corners? Looking for work,
Hoping that someone will need them.