A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
| Current Issue | Contents Page - This Issue | Editorial Staff | About This Journal |
| Submissions | Acceptance Criteria | Haibun Definitions | Articles | Archives | Search |

December 2009, vol 5 no 4

[return to Contents Page]

Glenn G. Coats


A Safe Distance from Home

It is an hour ride to the animal shelter. When my wife and I arrive, a young lady walks out of the office with Angel. She hands me the leash and I walk away with the dog as my wife goes inside. Dogs are barking at other dogs barking and I can smell dogs in the air. Angel and I sit down and look at each other and I can sense her tension. One ear is longer than the other. No one asks if we want her–they just assume we do. It is like a blind date. We will see what happens.

bewildered eyes
we try out new names
for the dog

A few hours later, after her first bath, her first walk around the yard, Angel slips away while I am talking on the phone. We call into the woods for an hour, a name the dog doesn’t recognize. Angel returns at dusk covered with mud and briars.

lost dog
I pull thorns
from another county

A few weeks pass and Angel has become Millie. My grandsons are here, and we are taking the new dog into the woods where the boys want to crack some marsh ice. The oldest boy (Conlyn) is carrying a walking stick, and marching ahead of us like a drum major. When Millie reaches his side, she drops suddenly to the ground and forms a tight ball. She is shaking like a leaf.

I do not have to explain to my eight-year-old grandson what has just happened. He knows. He knows this is a dog who was beaten with a rake or a broom handle. Conlyn lays his stick down beside the path. “I don’t need this stick anymore," he says as he stoops down to pat Millie on the head.

Millie pulls us down a path through the pines. Each of us is alert to sounds and flashes of color, to movements in the shadows as we bend down under arched trees, always ready, half expecting to see something we have never seen before.

winter rain—
in a bed of pine needles
the stray dog settles

[return to Contents Page]