On our nightly walks, my dog, Traveler,
will crane toward the occasional passing car,
studying each driver’s face, maybe searching
for his first master, the one who might have
taught him to lean full-bodied into love,
who conditioned in him a fierce loyalty.
Perhaps gone astray chasing a chipmunk
in the park or, slipping past a backyard gate,
he found himself irretrievably lost.
Rescued from the street two counties
and six years removed, my cherished companion
may believe, in the instinctive sensory wash
of canine thinking, that his first master
has all this time been driving everywhere,
still looking for him.
I was the family black sheep, declaring to the one
whose life was given over to my care,
I wish you weren’t my mother, with no thought
of my power to bruise. Knowing only the chafe
of that bond, I left with a one-way bus ticket
in my blue jean pocket. In the last years
of my mother’s life, I worked my way back,
fumbling with the intricacies of that knot,
frayed with time and distance, but still holding.
If one day some driver should stop, push open
the passenger door, call my dog by a name
that pricks up his ears, makes him shiver and whine
with joy, I wonder if I could release his leash,
let him leap into the car, and then with a resolve
hard as love, close the door behind him.
Barbara Sabol’s fourth collection, Imagine a Town, was awarded the 2019 Poetry Manuscript Prize from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals; most recently, Evening Street Review, Northern Appalachia Review, The Comstock Review, and Literary Accents, as well as in numerous anthologies. Her awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Barbara lives in Akron, OH with her husband and wonder dogs.
2 thoughts on “Traveling Back by Barbara Sabol”
Wonderful poem! I knew a dog that loved my company, loved being a cattle dog, and chasing cars.
Love this poem. I don’t think there is a mother nor daughter nor any being who has felt the strain of “ties that bind” who cannot relate.