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.


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