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.