Sunday, June 20, 2010

12/37 we are your family forever

(how else to say it)
up and down the bulldozed trail
that used to be The Clearing
you golden boy
and your long haired
black buddy
(it was 1970 when we met)
bounding where The Sweetheart Tree
once squeezed me in her arms
with acorns
recalling the day with
the haze of history
it was your friend
i pet

(I think I'd call it)
In and out of earshot
Your bark's report like buckshot
So rarely I would hear you
Beyond your happy panting
From games of kid-tag leaving
Children doubled over laughing
After romping
Catching breath and back to ramble
Round the Gordon's Warehouse building
Soon no longer rambling
You became like family
The name of your
Black buddy
I forget

now in a pack of playmates
up and down a blacktop trail
they call Duff Road
where once we lobbed a basketball
back and forth like Nipsy
no point of destination
you chose your own stunt
settled in the center for a good long scratch
and if a car approaches you'll catch his eye
and continue scratching
i threatened you with a leash
that you'd listen
but not too

Only 'til your scratching
Scraping on our screen door
Ends whatever sojourns you've
Attempted. We learn later
You've another family
Another set of children call you
Dukey, another
Grocery list attests to
The feelings you engender
Even when the Shabbes round roast, left untended,
Disappears into my dizzy spell
The sitter's split attention
And your animal soul
Or doggie

growling with your nuzzle
down in the grit grout of the sofa
grand and giant gestures
with names you gave them wordless
majestic Duke loving Duke playful Duke
shifts in sense so subtle
that to name is to overstate
paw on each shoulder
resting your chin on Gary's neck
like a lineman, injured,
leaning on a referee or
napping with one front leg
folded under, one
leg over my

When Gary broke
His leg you sat
By his cast and licked
His little toes peeking through plaster
And my injury? No different.
Mel could pay for hands to replace mine.
None could pay for a heart to touch mine.
You would curl up, feline -
You'd protect me, caring, ursine.
Even Mel fell in your thrall
His eyebrows danced to hear your call
Or scratch on screen with paw uplifted;
In his heart rocky mountains shifted.
Duke, I could never
Begrudge you that
Pot roast

every box we packed
held youandthebooks youandthegloves
youandtheclothes even youandthechina
every chair every pillow
bore soundless panting spotless pawprints
every room disappearing into echoes
and i? away to school
ten miles and a light year away
Not a floorboard left unsniffed
Not an echo unremembered
The coldest, wettest nose yields
Moisture to your eyes and mine
The softest ears I've ever touched
Now mop my little Gary's cheeks
Gary's arms still felt
On your neck
As the truck
Pulls away

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