Rivermist: For Roland Flint

When the kennel where my ridgeback died


some thirty years ago


wrote to ask for my business again,


offering us one free night's board


for every three nights paid, I looked


at that name on the envelope, Rivermist,


imagining they were writing to say


that Mowgli was somehow alive,


the swordlike blade of fur still bristling


on his back; that he had waited


all these years for me to pick him up.


And though I've had four dogs since,


a small one at my feet right now, each


running too swiftly through his life and mine,


I could have wept, thinking of rivers and mists -


how in their wavering shadows


they had prefigured and concealed


the losses to come: mother and uncles, friends,


and Roland now, so newly dead, who


on the flyleaf of an early book once wrote,


in his careful, redemptive hand: with love


for Linda and Ira, and for Mowgli.