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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