The photo in the lounge told the story.
A handsome man sitting on a haybale in a barn
flanked by his wife, four children
and six border collies
their ruffs ribboned with medals.
Other dogs he had buried under the willows
each with its own headstone.
He would greet them
as he drove by on the tractor
Morning Georgie! Champ! Flicker!
from the freshly mown hay
smell of sun on the river stones
And so it was each morning
that we held him up in the hoist
and removed his pyjamas to wash him
face hands armpits chest belly privates
eased on his rugby shorts
settled him in the wheelchair
put on his fleecy checked shirt
and the hat crowned with winning dog badges
laced up his boots
fed him his porridge and cup of tea …
wheeled him into the hospital lounge
by his photo
left him calling out
Hunter! Flash! Shadow! Mac! Bailey! Jess!