I. M. Tiggy, 1996-2011
My forebear, Thomas Thornhill, shepherd, would have known,
Sitting up alone at night is better with a dog
To keep you company: Victoria wore the crown
When he sat in his hut, out on the Wolds,
Dark blanketing the woods, in winter fog,
At lambing-time, there to protect the folds.
Or with the winter moon, bright as a florin
Showing behind the tracery of the trees
Frosting the grass with silver:
And, as I always told my dog,
Whenever she would listen, not often, I admit,
Her less-domesticated cousins, wolves
Would always seek the opportunists’ entrance:
The gate left careless open.
My thoughts themselves are wolves, out there tonight,
Out in the dark, with wild eyes gleaming bright;
My sheep are purely theoretical, and now
Alas, so is my dog: alas, at last.
I feel her loss, keen as a wolf-moon-howl!
Ah, nevermore she’ll frolic on sands, flat,
At Kildonan, or on Kilbrannan’s shore!
The miles she travelled with us, hills she climbed,
The sticks and frisbees fetched,
The seas she crossed, and now the last shore left
And in the moonlit sky, the dog-star twinkling.
Ironically, she was scared of sheep,
Their bleating spooked her,
Stupid mutt: I loved her, and that’s that;
No poem will bring her back, and any monument’s
Inadequate: so now we learn to sleep
Without her weight upon the bed
Without her twitching, dreaming, now, her
Memories are the pictures that we keep.
Tom Thornhill’s voice comes echoing down the years:
‘Get another one, lad! can’t work without a dog!’
Is all his rough, no-nonsense speech, says - wool, warp, weft,
I sort of know his meaning – it’s not ill, but …
Spring might come,
Silvering the grass with frost,
And it will find me lone, and lonely, still,
On this bare mountain outcrop in my head, bereft,
Still wishing I could stroke behind her ears
Still waiting for another dog,
To come and rescue me.