© Tom McIlveen

Winner, 2018 Ipswich Poetry Feast – Bush Poetry Section, Ipswich, Queensland.

When Bluey cocked his head that way, I’d get the strangest feeling
he was looking through a window at my soul.
He’d seen behind my thin disguise and all it was concealing,
when he looked at me, with eyes as black as coal.

They say that dogs have senses far beyond our comprehension,
from the time they first begin to leave the womb.
It’s said, that they can even see beyond the fourth dimension,
and can feel a spirit’s presence in a room.

My father said that Bluey was the clever culmination
of a breeding plan, to find a working dog.
They’d crossed a native Dingo with a Collie and Dalmatian,
to produce a pup to handle heavy slog.

When Bluey cocked his ears that way, I often used to wonder
‘…does he understand me more than others do?’
He’d comfort me, whenever I would hesitate or blunder,
and when no-one else could see my point of view.

He wouldn’t patronise me when I felt a tad downhearted,
nor encumber me, when I was in a funk.
He wouldn’t laugh or mock me when I felt I’d been outsmarted,
and would never disapprove, when I was drunk.

When Bluey wagged his tail that way, I’d found it reassuring
just to know that he was walking close at heel.
His love for me was natural, devoted and enduring…
and was always unconditional and real.

The day the kids had brought him home, all wrapped in socks and singlets,
he had whimpered like a baby in a crib.
They’d combed his hair and teased it into tiny braids and ringlets,
and had tucked him in a toddler’s cap and bib.

His little paws go pitter-patter softly through the pages
of a thousand memories I now recall…
from many misadventures in those very early stages,
to a time when he could hardly move at all.

When ticks had paralysed his legs, he’d seemed to age so quickly,
and would spend his time just lazing on the floor.
They’d sapped him of his energy, and left him lame and sickly,
with a shuffle, that he’d never had before.

When Bluey died last summer, from the illness that had cursed him,
I had grieved for him and wept on bended knee.
The memories we’d shared throughout the final days I’d nursed him,
would remain his lasting legacy to me.

When Bluey cocks his ears that way, I bow my head and ponder…
is he looking through a window at my soul?
I wonder if he’s watching me, from somewhere way up yonder…
where the stars are blue  ̶  through eyes as black as coal.

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