The New Dog

by Kevin Burris

Her name was Greta.
Wherever she went on their walks by the river,
she carried her stick. Any stick
would not do. It had to have a heft,
a certain circumference, the feel
of rough bark to make it right.

The old man carried his own beside her
and took his time, allowed her
the scents of this world.
She had long since passed
the hardwired drive to take a squirrel.
She would watch instead, stick-content,

maybe wade a little with the weather
turning hot. She sifted the cool from bottom sand
at the feet of high summer
and those of her man,
older too and resting on a footbridge railing.
They were a reliable pair.

I missed them through an Illinois winter
and wondered as I marked my own time,
regarding the hard truths of the river.
I met the man again in spring.
He was younger somehow among the daffodils,
bearing bad news
and good, straining at the leash.
His name is Duff.

— from Juniper Volume 3, Issue 2