Andrew James Menken: Dog Years

Dog Years

I flick between channels and find a doco

on retreating ice caps; the rain here drowns

out the combined whir of fridge and dryer.

Lying on my brother’s leather lounge, Rex

the Boxer twitches his greying jowls

and stares at me like I’m responsible

for the storm outside; I turn the TV off.

Rex is smart: he opens the wire door

by standing on his hind legs and working

the handle, he knows it’s time for a w-a-l-k

once the sun goes down and explains

in barks if he’s low on water. But flashes

of lightning reveal a septuagenarian afraid

of lightning; I can’t comfort him with toys

or slow his heart rate with pats. His tail

is a hairy window wiper when my brother

gets home. Rex pretends he’s forgotten

how to shake paws so that he’s greeted

with a hug instead; I remember how


Dad started shaking hands with us

before beddy-byes and leaving for work

without whispering goodbye, his half-finished

coffee on the kitchen bench

caught the first few scraps of light  

each morning. My nose wrinkled

the day I discovered he was drinking

shandies without lemonade. I’ll fall asleep

on the lounge tonight in a break between

the thunder or these thoughts

about my father.

Andrew James Menken

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