What do you mean?
He’s just as alive as a mother’s lullaby,
or a warm and pleasant dream.
For twenty years she’s washed the top of his head
with her kisses, and with her tears.
He’s been protecting her for longer than
she can remember.
Comforting this lonely child through
nightmares and strange shapes in the dark.
This old dog, he used to be fluffy and tan,
now he’s all matted, a darker mud brown
and one of his eyes is always winking at her.
He’s got a ragged yellow collar,
a worn black nose, and threadbare paws.
His body is unevenly stuffed from
a lifetime of being squeezed round the middle.
All those years rolling over on him,
pushing him out of the bed,
using him as a pillow,
throwing him across the room.
He endured it all.
He’s had a few stitches here and there,
a few close calls, a few repairs
while she peeked nervously over Mommy’s shoulder
at the delicate operation.
But he is alive,
like a secret lingering in the dark
like the familiar smell of quiet midnight memories
like a child’s musings and ideas growing up with her
until they become distilled emotion, coursing
deeper than a night full of stars.
More simply, he is alive
because he listened when she had
no one else to whisper her poetry to.
His every nook and cranny of raggedy fluff is full
to the brim with a child’s wonderings.
And he is alive
because he dried her tears with his ears,
because he protected her from the scary dreams,
because he was always, always there,
And because she loves him.