“For Harley”

“For Harley”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

I wonder if he ever knew his ears
Had failed him as he nosed the gravel road
Collecting scents of all that passed that way
As afternoon slipped into eventide
And xanthous-tinted rabbit brush held sway

Amid god-beams

Gilded god-beams

His pup days had long passed as elder gray
Frosted his chin and whiskers, and his gait
Had slowed as tired legs had stiffened up
And aching joints reduced him to a mere
Shadow of his bold beagle days of yore

When he was young

When we were young

His eyes—those burnished chestnut orbs that danced
And glimmered in the magic-hour rays
Of summer eves—belied his years and shone
With feisty fiery passion and the ken
Of canny canine stratagems and grim

Intensity

Vehemently

As for his tail, there wasn’t much to say
Other than it epitomized the joy
Of reckless youth, that whip-snapping white-tipped
Apostrophe above his bobbing haunch
Forever oscillating to and fro

It wagged a lot

His ears were shot

I’d stand behind him, holler out his name
And he, oblivious to all, would move
Nary a muscle nor would bat an eye
But go about his business in his world
Of silent summer farm days as the birds

Sang quietly

Spoke thoughtfully

A touch upon his back would do the trick
And he’d glance o’er at me and grin as if
To say, “Oh, there you are! Now where’s my treat?”
And having been trained well by him I’d reach
Into my pocket for a doggo snack

And he would beam

His eyes would gleam

But mostly I recall our evening walks
As day-haze settled, rabbit brush aglow
And Harley, nose to road, would pad along
Intent on scrying hidden critter trails
In search of that elusive siren song

That rabbit scent

And there he went

A brown and white torpedo like a blur
Of milk and cookies, ears jet-streamed behind
His head, and beagle-baying, “Here I go!”
And through the sage and cheat grass he would fly
His white-tipped tail zig-zagging through the maze

Of summer days

Our summer days

And I would stand and watch this ritual
This vital, sacred rite that kindled life
And filled souls overflowing as my friend
Chased rabbits in the fading of the day
Braying echoing ‘cross halcyon fields

Amid god-beams

Gilded god-beams

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