William Doglas Bowers (NaPoWriMo 2020, day 29)

Challenge: Write a paean to a pet, past or present.

I have written at least three poems about this friend of mine already, but I could write dozens more, so…

William Doglas Bowers

I was his man Gary just as much as he was my dog Bill. He once stopped

Dead in his tracks after he sprang from the screen door after a cat, because when I said, “Bill! No!”

it was more than a command. A tether, not a leash, connected us.

My daughter Kate gave him his name. His full name, William Doglas Bowers, had the same rolling cadence

As General Douglas MacArthur. It almost always suited him. But when he cowered

Against me, trembling, needing more shelter than our house, during a crack-lightning thunderstorm,

he was Bill, the big waif, and I felt huge

that I could stop his trembling with my arms.

I sentenced him to lethal injection after the heart-rippingest week of our time together. He was ribs and uncontrollable saliva and neverbebetter,

and again there was no trembling as he ceased, and he never closed his eyes, he just left, and then it was one of those orange Costco-y carts

to get his body to the parking lot, and then a hoist into the back

of the pickup, and home, and a plaster pawprint all claws, because

I couldn’t press hard enough, because I still didn’t want to hurt him, and then easing him

into the hole my friend and I had dug the day before, and words

from my daughter and my then-wife and me,

and then reuniting William Doglas Bowers with the Earth.

Three months later, walking with my daughter, I burst into tears. I hadn’t been thinking of him, but his name came up.

Eleven years later, here we are. I use my mind

to hologram him hrumphing contentedly

at my feet. I blink and blink.

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