Without the usual formalities
we seem to have worked out
an understanding, a square trade.
Even-steven, as you like to say.

Your hip betrays you
so we are your legs.
We will be your dogcatchers
and you will be our grandpop.

Over time the dollars
and pastries add up,
but so do the pot pies
and handmade cards
for Veteran’s Day, Flag Day,
and your birthday.

On Sundays
we catch the dog for free
because Sundays are
holy days, even for dogs.
Especially for dogs.

The dog accepts her role
in this arrangement,
racing like a tiny black horse
toward our clapping hands,
but otherwise complying
only at the promise
of biscuit-shaped rewards—
much like ourselves,
if we’re honest.

You cruise over
in your rusted-out sedan
yelling, “Can I have your dog?”
The dog hops in the back seat
and raises one eyebrow,
then another, in thoughtful
observation as we talk
in the street.

You slowly return home,
coasting down your long
driveway, and we giggle
at your silhouettes,
man and dog,
as though chauffeuring
a noble lady back
to her grand estate,
her nose sniffing the air

Claire Juno, © 2021

…dedicated to my neighbor and friend,
a Korean War veteran, 187th Airborne,
Purple Heart.