By Robert Bradley
Riley was my trusted companion for sixteen years. He was a big dog, an Airedale Terrier, who sagged the scales at nearly one hundred pounds.
He wasn’t real smart but he was real good looking.
July 1st is the anniversary of his passing.
It does no good standing
& yelling. He’s deaf
as a man with long years
in the engine room of a ship listening
for the sounds metal makes
before it fails, a faint break
in rhythm, something out of tune.
He is lying in the middle
of the porch, staring south
across a garden
verdant green with promise
He can’t hear the gaggle of geese
talking to one another
streaking the sky in black and white.
Traffic is far away, only a whisper,
like blood through a vein.
Some dark scent, perhaps, tugs
his head back & forth
in an old, old way.
If he hears anything, it is likely the light
beating in his chest, already diminishing,
though neither of us admits it.
When he turns his head at my touch
his eyes fill with a small joy,
as though love is so easily given
even I might as well have a little,
as though, when he rises
& trots to his bed,
I needn’t follow after.