By Ann Chiappetta
I wait for the knock
Once it comes my life will change forever
Since I arrived
For two days and nights
For my entire life until now –
I sit on the bed
Wondering how it will feel an hour from now
And go numb with nerves
Question scroll across the marquee of my mind
What will she be like?
Will she like me, learn to love me?
The hot red letters of doubt scroll past
Can she guide me?
Will I be able to trust her?
Then the knock comes and my heart jumps
“Come in.” I say and stay seated
Hoping I can open my heart with as much ease as the door.
I hear her nails click on the floor
I put out a hand, touch her head
She licks me, tail wagging
“Ann, this is Verona.” the trainer says
I don’t really know what to say or how to feel
But her presence soothes me
“Aren’t you a beautiful girl?” I coo as the trainer leaves
We sit on the floor together
The marquee of doubts vanishes
The blocky, red letters fade
Replaced by a message of calm, canine acceptance
Dressed in ebony
She settles her head in my lap
Each stroke of my hand
Strengthens the hope, quiets the fear
The questions dissipate with the knowledge
— Stroke by stroke —
That she is the one who will lead me