A Big Brown Dog

A big brown dog,
gray around the muzzle,
lay in the front yard of  an old home,
between his front paws a tennis ball.
As we walked by,
he took the ball in his teeth
and slowly, casually,
brought it out to my wife and me.
But when I tried to take it,
without running from us,
he affably, almost humorously,
slowly turned his head aside
so that I could not reach it.
He continued to turn his head
away from my hand.
His mistress, sitting on the porch,
told us he often lay thus,
the ball between his paws,
waiting for passers-by
so he could play this game.
He had converted
savage canine rapacity,
not into a raucous game of keep away,
a dignified social  relationship.
I thought how cleverly
he had solved the problems
of neglect and old age.
I gave up trying to get the ball
and hugged him instead.



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