Bumped into Betty on the high street,
she wasn't looking where she was going,
and she was walking way too fast
at the age of eighty-five,
courtesy of hip replacement voodoo magic stuff,
first time I'd seen her since last year,
so I says - where's your dog then ?
and she goes - well it died on boxing day last,
and I says - sorry to hear that, but it was old,
and she goes - come to me house for a brew
and we can trade the latest goss,
so I did,
like you do.
So we were in her kitchen,
which is a very nice old-woman cosy kitchen,
and she is making tea, with leaves, in a pot,
and I have known her for twenty years,
I used to buy tomato plants off her husband every spring,
but he died three years ago,
although his gardening coat still hangs on a peg in the hall
and his briar pipe is still in a glass ashtray in the lounge,
and she says, while stirring the pot - these new hips,
once you get used to them, are extremely good,
they are plastic you know, better than the old bone ones.
And I smiled and nodded.
And she poured tea, and sat down at the table across from me.
And the light caught her crucifix, making it glint,
this was a woman who plainly feared God,
and then we both spoke at once,
so I said - go on, you first,
and so she proceeded to tell me about her dog.
The dog had become vey ill, she took it to the vet, on the bus,
She said - Bobby got sick, shivering and trembling,
the vet deduced he was diabetic, treatment was available,
but from now on no more energetic canine stuff.
She sighed, and stared into her tea cup.
I mean, you don't want to ask do you,
but I had visions of daily doggy insulin injections
and blood-sugar-level tests for ailing mutts.
So Betty looked after her sickly Bobby,
but like she said - you can only do so much.
So we finished our tea, and she says -
you could do a poem about it,
you did some other stuff about dogs,
I read them in your books,
and I said I wasn't in dog mode anymore,
and she shot me a quizzical look.
So we finished drinking tea,
and she said - come into the garden
and I'll show you where Bobby lies sleeping,
and I thought to myself - woah, the dog is buried in the garden,
fertilizing the shrubbery,
and it was all overgrown and a bit wild,
and she said - I miss Bert, he attended to all the weeding.
And there, near the end wall, under a mallow tree,
were two granite headstones,
poking up, a bit odd in a garden, but plain to see.
And Betty points and says - this ones Bobby,
and this ones Bert, I buried them together,
in Gods good earth, and when I pop off,
you can tuck me in with them,
for what it's worth.
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