When winter comes in November
and gathers with it
I think of John and Dog
hunched in their lean-to in
Largest inner city park in America.
John and Dog,
in endless sheets of rain
which makes uncomfortable blankets of cold,
mists of their breathing hanging in the air...
as he and Dog lay close.
Sometimes it even snows
and they wake together, are covered in white
in colder weather.
At night John and Dog hunker down,
listening to the sighing forest sounds
through the gauze of sleep.
Chests rise and fall in dog-human unison.
In the morning, together
they gather varied branches to make wreathes.
Hunger makes opportunists of them both.
Tying branches together, John twists them into
All to make imagined fortunes for men and dogs of straw.
While the thin whistle of the early train
and the rush of the morning traffic
break the false cloak of silence in the woods.
Hunger, too, makes the silences rip away.
Soon he and Dog trudge in towards town.
Riding the train, gives them a momentary respite
from the insistent rain.
John hopes for enough money to keep
them fed for more than a day.
John hopes for a little more than just a seasonal kind of kindness.
I run into him and Dog at the bus stop
loaded down with wreathes.
Offering what meager little I have,
I feel misbegotten, miserly, torn.
Scanning the horizon of city blocks, I watch as
John and Dog continue on in the rain.
I know they will venture on to the food kitchen
across the river. I am impatient with my thoughts
and the rain. I see John and Dog walking down the mall
imploring, asking, always friendly, polite.
John and Dog have always been family.
Left the East Coast. Homeric Odyssey.
Traveled only to make the wilds of the West Hills
their home. I know sometimes travelers part company
sooner than they should.
One day, after the New Year, I heard, John woke up alone
with his right side much colder than it normally ever was.
Dog had crawled off in the night,
too sick to say good-bye,
leaving John alone to grieve a grief he could not bear.
They had taken every step together,
Human matched to friend.
Known mostly only each others company, everywhere.
I wonder, if John had ever stopped to imagine
how the emptiness of his echoing calls would
fill the winters of Forest Park full of despair.
Dog did not answer. The torrent washed away his tracks, his scent.
What John had left
was the singular memory of Dog's warm body
in the cold winter's rain.
It would have to sustain him
for a lifetime.
Copyright October 30, 2012 All Rights Reserved By Author
Melissa A Howells Meloo Tilt-a-World...This is actually someone else's tilt-a-world
this time. No man should have to loose everything in one morning. Homelessness.
It ought to be on the National Campaign Agenda. How can you fight a war when people who've fought previous wars are wandering our countryside homeless, friendless, cold, hungry.
When there are thousands of people sleeping outside and criminalized for it every night.
This is dedicated to John and his ever-faithful, wonderful friend Dog.
They are out there somewhere, walking together still. I just know they are.
What a wonderful Dog you are. What a big heart you have together.