The New Puppies

by Roger Robinson

When I visit my mother at Christmas
she always has new puppies.
Brown and white furballs, with tiny slit eyes
short legs and floppy ears. They're like clones
of last year's puppies and the years before.

Now I'm an adult my age has bought rank.
I'm allowed to sit royally and shout
commands at my young cousins and stray kids
too poor to have a good Christmas elsewhere.
They shine my shoes and bring me orange juice.

They in turn try to get the puppies
to fetch thrown balls and twigs in the backyard,
but the puppies only respond to bowls of milk
and a tickled stomach, as they roll over
catatonic with the joy of touch.

At night I stay up late with my mother
making traditional Christmas snacks
as night rain hits the tin roof like applause.
She wakes each one of the seven children
individually at different times. She gives each one

a special snack and a hug and makes them swear
not to tell the others; so they all wake with the glow
of a favourite child. I ask her what has happened
to all the old puppies and she gives
various reasons like; a bigger dog killed them

or they ran away, or they were crushed
by a reversing car. She says this without
a dimming in her eyes or a lilt of sorrow
in her voice like someone used to losing
things and having them replaced.


Last updated March 07, 2023