The Indian Pacific from Perth
has arrived on Platform 2.
We poured from the train.
The platform surged with people.
Baggage handlers scurried around.
Grey day. Spiteful rain. Cold wind.
Better check on your dog, son.
My dog was in a dog-cage in the baggage car.
He was eight. I was sixteen.
His puppy self had lain in my arms.
Together we paddled the glittering lake,
he in the front, alert, mouth open, excited.
He loped alongside my bicycle.
He bounded comically through high grass.
He lay at my feet in the evening.
He was my brother and my friend.
There’s a dog loose on the tracks.
I barely heard that announcement
as I wandered down to the baggage car.
I’d checked on him on each stop.
Now I’d take him to our new home.
I’ve come for my dog.
Jeez, mate, sorry, he’s gone.
We tried to get him out of his cage.
He held back and slipped his collar
and he bolted.
I ran through the crowd, searching the tracks,
calling and whistling again and again.
No dog loped up happily to lick my hand.
Finally I stopped.
He was gone,
3,400 kilometres from his home,
running in a strange city
full of noise and trams and cars and trains,
increasingly desperate, hungry, alone.
The day was cloudy, cold and wet.
I reached for my sunglasses
to hide my grief, though tears flowed freely.
Sammy, my dear friend,
don’t run too far.
Find someone to take you in.
Let them love you like I do.
In a sad huddle, my family waited.
I walked past them towards the platform steps.
They seemed so very far away.
First published at Silver Birch Press