Stroking the dog.

An elderly man sits by his hospital bed
and comforts his soft toy dog.
He is lost in a past where dogs run, bark and play
on half remembered parks and beaches.
He strokes, pats, murmours,
he feeds it Maltezers.
This is no place for a dog.

A visiting stranger asks the dogs name.
It doesn’t have one, he says.
The visitor tells him that it is called George.
She tells him that George doesn’t like Maltezers.
He looks at the dog and shakes his head.
The dog has no name,
of course it hasn’t,
and Maltezers are all that he has.
Deep inside the man’s past,
far away from his inaccessible present,
he retains a grain of truth.
It has no name because it is not a real dog.
He can feed it anything.

He picks the dog up and holds it to his face,
finding calm in his caring,
taking pleasure in control.
A mind drifting towards an unfamiliar world
is coming home.

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