Every day, the dog lies in the shade of
the willow tree, but
does not remember why.
Does not remember
the man who disappeared over the rise
in the gravel road, as he’d done
so many times before.
Does not remember why
he is filled with a sense of
loneliness and longing.
He knows only that
he must wait.
The children have often tried
to lure him back into the yard
with bones and hugs.
And he goes for a while, but
always returns to the tree and
come and go.
Farmers pushing carts to market.
Children on their way to school.
The doctor, making calls.
He knows them all.
Each time someone passes,
he raises his head in expectation
only to lower it again,
One day, a figure emerges over the rise,
but it is not a shape he recognizes.
A one-legged man swings back and forth
between crutches, laboring under
the weight of a pack.
The dog’s tail gives a thump.
He does not know why.
Does not know why he rises to
his feet and runs toward the man.
Does not know why he
knocks the man over, whimpering,
his tail wagging his entire body.
The man laughs. Cries.
He thought he was at the end
of his journey home from the war,
but realizes that it has just begun,
as the dog leads him past the willow tree
into the yard.
© 2011 Petra Martin