I begged him to keep walking up the hill.
I pleaded with him to come out of the woods back to me.
I promised anything if only it meant I wouldn’t lose him too.
The prior ten years had been spent taking care of you. Folding piles of clothes. Washing dishes in the hottest water. Picking up behind you as suffered from one tantrum to another. Remembering where your keys were. Driving you to doctor appointments. Constantly reminding you that I was on your side. I don’t know when I started feeling resentment, but it grew like a weed. All the while I thought I was loving you I became the one thing you never wanted: a caretaker.
Benny was too old a dog for the five mile hike to the lookout point,
But he followed me everywhere, and I didn’t try to stop him.
He was wearing his white fur coat with the brown fringe.
I made it as a Halloween costume for him one year.
And he wore a bell around his neck to scare away the black bears and deer.
I sat watching the Susquehanna River until it got dark as Benny panted at my side.
On the way back the sound of his bell got further and further behind me,
And I had to stop often to wait for him.
He was in the brush and trees that surrounded the trail.
Maybe he was ready to wander off to die in peace.
But I still needed him.
I stood alone in the darkness at the edge of the woods,
Calling frantically to him and straining to listen for the far off sound of his bell.
Mark Taneyhill is a trial lawyer living in Wilmington, Delaware. His poems have appeared in The Milo Review and the All-Out Monster Revolt Magazine. He has been sharing his poetry at local open mic readings for over twenty years.