Of course they love, says my student. I slap
my dog sometimes when he comes to my bedside
just to see if he loves unconditionally,
and I can tell he is confused, searching as best

he can his narrow memory for any snap
in discipline, a transgression, lest
he merited the slap and any toothy, snide
snarl would only worsen his suddenly

mysterious ill-placement in this pack I
lead. Unable to discern, he looks at me
for guidance in distress that there might be
a cause, until I augment his easy uncertainty

with a caress, and bring my softest voice to bear
on the curtain I now part on a love so rare.