In response to the prompt“The food I crave . . .
She sniffs, pushing her shiny black nose against one of the small hard brown lumps in her bowl, sniffs again, the tip of her nose at the end of her graying muzzle turning up ever so slightly. She sniffs, sighs, turns, and clicks way across the hardwood floor. "That is not," she sighs, turns around twice in her round bed by the fireplace, "the food that I crave." She sighs again, curls her arthritic back in a small arch, her black nose resting on one back leg, her ribs stretching under her tight old skin as she breathes slower, deeper, a soft snore, her ears relaxing, twitching.
The food that I crave . . . and she is off again, out of her stiff old body, back into her pliable, flexible young body, feet stretched out in front, in back, nose to the ground, under the corral fence, between the horses' legs, zig-zagging back and forth across the field.
She smells pine needles, turkey droppings, fresh horse manure, green grass.
She cocks one ear, then the other, turns her head with full concentration towards the ground to the right, sniffs, standing on three legs, right paw lifted as she stares, not hearing the red-shouldered hawk circling in the blue sky above, calling, “Scree, scree,” higher and higher overhead, not hearing the burbling of the river or the pickup clanking down the road way above her. She sniffs. Here, here is the food that I crave, and she leaps straight in the air and down on front feet, frantically digging dirt on both sides of her, a speeding dynamo after the food that she craves.
And then she stops, sits back, looks around, takes in the burbling water, the screeing hawk, the clanking pickup, and the empty hole in front of her, still giving off the warm scent of the gopher that was there only seconds before. Gone. But look, another gopher head pops it head up three feet away.
She jumps, jaws clamp down. She shakes her head hard, the squeaking stops. She swallows, fur, bone, warmth.
Now, that is the food that she craves.
The old dog curls tighter in front of the fireplace, gives a dreaming yip, then gets up, clicks back to her bowl and sniffs. Nope, just small brown lumps,
not the food that she craves.