In dreams, the fine line between

Coyote and canine is far from fearsome.

The dangerous, the domesticated

Hardly distinguishable: fur, fangs,

Pet, petrifying, I move among them.

In my sleep, I’m awake

To no difference boys and beasts.

But once my eyelids snap open like cheap blinds,

I’m made painfully aware,

At a trailhead, at winter’s cold core,

Of my own dogs, all puffed up but ultimately defenseless.

The pair are startled by the shrill barks

Then by the largest among them.

They see what was never really far-off

Some adversary, some ancestor

Skulking, lip raised, by the tree line

Flashing that purple streak of meanness.