Just before bedtime I let Max,
my Benjy terrier, slip past me.
Before I could stop him, he fled
across the porch, down the snow-
packed stairs and vanished.  Hours
later, he still hadn’t reappeared
so I got in the car and crept down
sepulchral streets and alleys
seeking a glimpse of his golden fur.

Pulling back into my driveway
I caught sight of a dog standing
on the glistening gravel as if waiting
for me.  A first I thought it might be
my prodigal, but this dog was immense,
white as the full moon and regal,
an ermine-clad Wenceslas. 
He gazed as if he knew me,
eyes emanating an unearthly power.

Beside me up the steps he glided
and would have followed me inside
but I turned and said No.
With trembling fingers I closed
the door and secured the bolt,
hoping he’d just go away.
The rest of the night I shivered
on the daybed beneath a moonlit
window, listening for familiar footfalls.

Pat Martin