Sun Dog


By Ruth Nolan 

All that backyard and (no) watchdog,
my grass is uneasy

He says he knows, he knows what it’s like
to go from desert heat to the cold and back.

I just returned from rainy fog in San Francisco,
he did time at the fire prison camp in Susanville.

He says he was once a long-time meth addict
did everything 100%—sales, distribution, all of it.

I say that I understand, I know what it’s like
to be addicted—to work—and he says that’s

the only sure way to feel in control of things.
I agree, hesitating to let him remove my clothes

when he offers to give me a back massage
(if I would just lie face-down on the floor).

I tell him he’s lucky to have a longtime wife,
he says I should be grateful for my life.

His hands are strong from construction work.
They feel like afternoon sunshine on my skin

while the fiery winds of desert October
tear slats of wood from my tired fence.

And so
I surrender to something
that feels like love
but is not.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

About Ruth Nolan

Ruth Nolana former wildland firefighter in the Western U.S.,  is a writer and professor based in Palm Springs, CA. She’s the author of the poetry book Ruby Mountain (Finishing Line Press 2016). Her short story, “Palimpsest,” published in LA Fiction: Southland Writing by Southland Writers (Red Hen Press 2016), received an Honorable Mention in Sequestrum Magazine’s 2016 Editor’s Reprint contest and was also nominated for a 2016 PEN Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. Ruth’s writing has also been published in James Franco Review; Angels Flight LA/Literary West; Rattling WallKCET/Artbound Los Angeles; Lumen; Desert Oracle; Women’s Studies Quarterly; News from Native California; Sierra Club Desert Report; The Desert Sun/USA Today and Inlandia Literary Journeys. Ruth holds her M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside. She may be reached at ruthnolan13@gmail.com and Twitter @ruthnolan.

Photo credit: Dawn Huczek via a Creative Commons license.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What do you think?

0 replies