Things my dog doesn't know

There is a coziness in listening to sirens drone warmly in the distance, their cries decreasing in volume with each breathless mile they cover, as the Friday night traffic slows to the side of the road and the crickets white-noise with a comforting consistency outside my open window. My dog, who aches for the coyote kinship of the huddled canyon walls under our house, bristles hotly at sirens. She matches them with perfect pitch, howling her own sad notes to match their mournful saddle and sway, as they race down the PCH towards the day’s most recent catastrophe: a tourist steps on one of the broken Heineken bottles littering the caves up at El Matador, a dad can’t read the rip tides right and ends up coughing up prescription pills on the dark sand near the lifeguard tower, a seventeen-year-old with a saint’s last name swerves high on E through the tunnel where PCH becomes the 10, misjudges the curb as he turns the radio up, and flips and kills his passenger at eleven A.M on a Monday. Through and over it all the sun spreads its weary light. My dog doesn’t know about the lacerations and the tetanus and the spinal cords and the juvenile great white sightings, the falls from rock faces, the drunk British girls crossing PCH on a blind curve to get to the barefoot bar; my dog doesn’t know about the rattlesnakes in the dry brush, or the cigarettes in the dry brush, or the seven-foot fiberglass surfboard that escapes its owner to come with full force down on a bodysurfer’s back. She doesn’t know about the woman who falls asleep in the sun and wakes up green and puking, or the young couple who had the distinct misfortune of being on the wrong side of the road, where there isn’t much of a sidewalk, just in time for someone to wake up at the wheel, overcorrect, and slam into them. My dog doesn’t know about death or injury or their accompanying dirges. She knows about howling, though, and what it’s useful for.