It was the last day of the big Winslow Homer exhibition
no tomorrows, time to get in the car
my middle-aged dog Annie jumped in the front seat
I gently lifted elderly Guthrie into the back
no time for a walk before we drove to the city
we’d stop at the beach on the way home.
The show was amazing and left me eager
to be near the ocean and feel it as Homer had
it was snowing hard
the wind was getting stronger
our walk would be as thrilling as The West Wind
or Watching the Breakers – A High Sea.
Annie charged down to the beach
Guthrie sniffed and sauntered
as the gusts grew stronger
he teetered and walked sideways
I saw with a shock for the first time
he’d become as small and vulnerable
as the fox in Fox Hunt.
The wild winter beach he adored
had turned against him
endangering him like the besieged sailors in Blown Away
the drowning women in Undertow
I crouched down to steady and guide him
half-carried him home
remembering the rescuers in Saved and The Lifeline.
My beloved dog was more battered
than the rocks on the shore in Weatherbeaten
weak from our misadventure
beaten by disease and old age
I relived the Homer exhibition every day for months after
just not the way I’d imagined I would.
Sheila Wellehan's poetry is featured or forthcoming in Chiron Review, The Fourth River, Pittsburgh Poetry Houses, Poetry East, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Yellow Chair Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Visit her online at www.sheilawellehan.com.
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