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Hail and Farewell

ISSUE:  Winter 2003

We would see him wandering, homeless and solitary,
 Weary gait from arthritic hips, mostly rust, not
Rosy-fingered dawn in his velvet coat, but gentle if

Our path crossed his odyssey through this world. His
 Head awry, eyes milky with cataracts, he and Plato kept
A respectful distance, old warriors, each a tribe of one.

Once we met him coming from the landfill with his trophy,
 Spoils of indeterminate meatbone, a storm of flies bearing
Down. He stopped, laid back his head and sang heavenward,

More wail, than song, of exile, of home, of loss and more
 Loss. We would glimpse him sailing through the shadows.
He had a tale to tell, but no one asked. They ran him

Off to defend their stinking trash. The day he clashed
 With the Chevy 1/2 ton, we heard the squeal and thud, saw
The driver pause to check his bumper, saw him drive away.

Saw the fallen, his labored final breath beside the road,
 His blind eyes open, nostrils twitch, the shudder when his
Soul left. Plato sat erect and resolute, not mournful,

Not like the one who carried him up the slope and pawed
 The soft earth down to receive him. We knew your name,
O gallant one, from whence you came and to where you return.


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