Alex and Army
A small boy, fourteen months of age,
An old dog, fourteen years his senior,
At play on the lawn,
on a summer's eve.

The boy is curious, but gentle; making aquaintence of the dog,
Stroking and patting, gibbering and smiling, investigating this
Furred, horizontal creature,
his companion this night.

The dog is patient, accustomed to children, though now fully deaf
In his advanced age. He hears not the child's murmurs and whispers,
He feels the pressure of a soothing hand,
and scans the blurred horizon.

In younger days the dog would bark and scamper,
Alert at the least noise, guarding home and family,
Teaching children how to play, how to be patient,
how to be wary.

His self-imposed duties are fewer now, and harder. He can chase the
Ball only three times in the summer heat before needing a rest.
His owner is patient: she has taught him sign language to replace
her now useless words of command and encouragement.

Each time the dog rises on short legs, and waddles foreward, the
Child rises unsteadily to his feet, and teeters after him,
Stooping to pat, and rub and whisper bubbling sounds at the dog
who cannot hear him.

The child's mother calls him homeward. After a last rub of the dog's back
He complies, wobbling toward the porch light with upraised arms.

The dog lies still in the grass,
Savoring every precious moment
Of every summer evening
Left to him.

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© 1997 Stephen L. Spanoudis, all rights reserved worldwide