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Old Dog


For you, last Sunday morning was
another of those rare, delightful days
when I lay late,
which meant that you could laze,
stretched out upon your favourite rug.
No need to struggle to your feet
and drag your failing joints outside
into another pointless
winter dawn.

You slept, content and ignorant
while, up above,
I waited, wakeful, for the day to start
and wondered if I’d have the strength
to bear the coming trial that
I had set us both.

For, god-like, I had called on Death
to take you out to walk that day.
I rose and dressed. It snowed a while;
fat flakes whirled silent-white.
The sun came out. Then Death arrived,
in his Toyota four-wheel drive.
He bore a small blue plastic box,
(like some child’s school lunch box)
and from it took his simple tools.

He slipped his steel into your vein
as you lay quiet in the sun
and as I watched you drifted off,
smooth-limbed at last
to show me that, for you,
this was no trial.

So now I put away your lead
your collar, basket, brush and comb.
I pull the white and tangled hairs
from off your brush to let them fly
like skeins of snow.

The sparrows catch them as they blow,
for spring is coming, very soon,
and birds have nests to build.


Alistair Scott
June 1995




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