© Arthur Green, 2012

Winner, 2012 Open Section and Overall – Coo-ee March Festival, Gilgandra, NSW.

With the train’s departure pending, ’midst the clamour, folks were ending
their goodbyes with tearful promises and vows to keep in touch.
As the platform’s amplifier drove the clamour ever higher,
to young Davey and old Blue, the ‘goodbye thing’ became too much.

“Goodbye, Blue” sobbed Davey crying, with his arms around Blue, trying
to suppress deep sobs that seemed about to tear his chest in two.
“Mum says boarding school is merely just six months and not long really,
but since dogs are not allowed there, I’m afraid I can’t take you.”

Last goodbyes with whistles blowing; Blue restrained but clearly knowing
he’d be left behind as Davey took his seat aboard the train.
Through the window as it started, Davey watched Blue, broken-hearted,
struggle wildly, perhaps fearing they might never meet again.

One last lunge and old Blue broke free; flying feet a blur but though he
tried to bridge the growing gap, to all those watching it was plain,
that despite his desperation, the degree of separation
was too great and all knew, sadly, Blue’s attempt would be in vain.

As Blue grew with grim persistence, ever fainter in the distance,
framed by tracks of steel, to Davey he became a teary blur.
That small image, soon far distant, fading fast but still insistent,
symbolised for Davey later, just how close they both then were.

Just how a cattle-dog named Blue became his friend, those few who knew,
all claimed that they had never seen a stronger bonding ever,
‘and boarding school was not too long, to be apart for bonds that strong,’
though none foresaw what lay in store, would break the bond forever.

Three months passed before the note came; late because his folks weren’t quite game
to pass on what both agreed would cause young Davey so much pain,
with the words they used conveying what a few close friends were saying,
that ‘perhaps old Blue had sensed some such when parting at the train.’

‘Hate to tell you this,’ the note read, ‘but despite our efforts Blue’s dead.
Wouldn’t eat; just lay there pining, sad and fretting for his friend.
Though perhaps old age played some part, we both felt ’twas more a sad heart
that could well have helped contribute to old Blue’s untimely end.’

As end-of-term vacations start, excitement rules as trains depart,
and happy boarders, heading home, high-five close friends with vigour,
though Davey’s thoughts were far away, to where, at home, to his dismay,
there’d be no welcome scene in which both Blue and he might figure.

Through the carriage-window gazing, at far distant, bright stars blazing
like a million glow-worms blinking in the early evening sky;
note in hand and devastated, knowing that no Blue now waited,
Davey watched the twilight-shadowed, tree-lined landscape flashing by.

“How could you, God, take my old Blue? What good is one old dog to you?
I couldn’t even say ‘goodbye’, nor tell him that I’d never
forget him in the years ahead, nor even though he might be dead,
forget the bond we two had shared, that only death could sever.

But sometimes Fate can do strange things to ease the pain homecoming brings,
and though to fix this problem might seem rather complicated,
I’m sure that Fate (or God) would see, that waiting where ‘Blue’ used to be,
if not ‘old Blue’, there’d somehow be a ‘new Blue’ replicated.

And so, at last, back home again, when Davey checked where Blue had lain,
he found, tail wagging with delight and gait still somewhat chancy,
as if in answer to his plea, a pup from old Blue’s progeny,
which proved old Blue was not too old to win some female’s fancy.

“Look Mum, Blue’s back,” young Davey cried while brushing tears of joy aside,
while from his cradled arms peeped out, the focus of attention.
“Not like he was, but young again.” The words, at last, were free of pain.
“You’ll never know how hard I prayed to help change God’s intention.”

So now young Blue and Davey share that bond as if old Blue’s still there,
which might well be, from Davey’s plea, clear proof hearts can be mended
in ways that mere words can’t convey, and no skilled artist could portray –
that bonds can thrive when they’re revived, by love, as God intended.

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