One of the nicest afternoons I’ve spent
Was the one we spent together
Searching for your dog.
You called her name
Your young voice rising bravely in the tired, hot afternoon.
You called your dog and I came running.
You turned cartwheels on the road
And I turned cartwheels in my mind.
Your navel glowed taut, clear and untouched.
But you walked on uncaring, calling “Panda!”
Not caring whom you surprised.
I tried to think of hopeful statements
In case something had happened, but you did not need them.
I was more worried than you
Because you were too free and happy to need my protection.
I was more worried than you, feeling you near me.
Wondering what to do, how to turn the conversation
And if it should be turned.
You hoped that she was not squashed
But you were not on to worry.
I wanted to find that dog that day.
It had sentimental value.
You got her on your eleventh birthday.
Although we found some old tracks and asked some people
You eventually decided she would turn up sometime
And went back home.
I went off too, after looking for her in an open field
Because you said she liked them,
Hoping you might come back and see me, hoping I might find her
And have an excuse for going back to your home
But I didn’t.
I didn’t even know what she looked like.
I counted myself fortunate
To be there to help you
And that you wanted me.
But it was not my day.
Even our mutual telepathy failed to work.
You told me when she came back
But I was too busy to listen.