A late knock sounded
as the fire sputtered;
‘Will you let me in? I am a traveller,
I will not stay for long.’
The knock came more insistently,
my dog let out a whine,
unwillingly I opened up
and led him to the barn.
Grim midnight ebbed
in segments; dawn
spilled upon the plain
and filled my dog
beside the vagabond.
Two hands made farm work light,
the stranger taught my lame dog better ways to work,
he would not talk about his road
but asked about its limp.
I used to welcome in more men, and once this caused it harm –
in shame I sometimes beat it for its errant ways.
It came habitual to walk through broken dawn,
throw wide the door to find my dog
a cradled crescent
in the stranger’s arms.
The last quick syrup ran toward his time to part,
the hound twined frantically
around his legs,
at once more his than mine,
he said farewell and strode away –
it howled –
he turned and held it to his chest,
then finally let it down.
It circled desperately, but could not follow him.
I realised then I loved it. We must get by without the guest,
and somehow, down the dusty path,
part of it runs with him,
and sometimes, by the morning door
my dog curls in his arms.