Poem: Imprint

By Paul Castonguay, October 2018, Updated March 2021
Old Dog | Poem

It’s amazing now to think of how small you were.
Huddled against St. Jude’s doors.
 Early mountain spring
 still biting and cold.
All eyes, tongue, and paws.
Galaxy eyes but,
your search for safety just a permanent look.
Observant watchful
but never surprised.
With that wide eyed nervous wonder
you kept us safe.
From vacuums cats a vicious black lab
hell bent on eating us out of house and home.

You learned our names and a love for carrots.
With your soft tongue you
kissed comfort into my teenage nights.

 Until I left you.
For a city across the state,
a life apart from wooded walks
and quick glances over your shoulder

of anticipation
of concern.

Nights at the foot of a hard twin mattress
replaced by weekends of sheepish sheep dog looks
the bag I never fully unpacked.

And we separately grow older
And we both get further away
And now our moments become fewer and farther in between
And when together we now search for
each other across the foggy void
of your unseeing eyes.
 I’m sorry.

You tell me you know with a flick of your ear.
Our hellos slower with your age
our goodbyes slower with my fear.

I tell you to say so before you lay down
You tell me I’ll know when it’s time
 with those eyes that still see me
 through the cataract mist.

‘I always find you’
he says with a head turn and a tail wag.
‘Watch out for the cats.’

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 93: Spring 2018

Photo by H WA / Pexels