A man was out back-country skiing when he fell
and did something, broke something,
and he couldn’t get up.
He lay there in the snow, miles from any road.
His dog was with him and as he lay there, this dog
raced about and snapped at the snow
and hopped over the man once, twice.
The man spoke to the dog but the dog did not recognize him.
Did not, the man sensed, seem to recognize him.
It was cold and getting dark.
The man could not feel his legs.
The dog was there, he barked insanely at a squirrel.
The man called the dog’s name, ordered the dog to sit.
The man asked the dog to please come to him.
As darkness fell the man wondered if this was Death.
The dog was gone. The man lay on his back and cursed.
It was night.
Hours passed. The man thought he heard something.
The beam of a flashlight came stabbing at the trees.
It was his wife, she’d come upon him in the snow.
When he saw her he cried out. She knelt beside him
and he quickly recounted for her his life story,
starting with the birthing canal, his first blankets—
then the sun, how it warmed the universe—
jobs he’d loved and hated—his golf clubs—his marriage—
a couple cars he’d owned.
He blinked his eyes. He was angry.
The man raved but was alone. There was no one.
His limbs went out like candlewicks and he felt a flame
glowing in his chest. The dog ran like mad through the woods,
snapping at the wind.