When the beast started toward him he whistled to it
as to a dog, holding out a hand like Daniel to the lion
at what was neither dog nor lion but just a squat gray
Dorsetshire named Churchill. It was the oldest one
we ever had, older than its namesake, older even
than my grandfather, who was the oldest man alive
up until he reached to pet what stood there puffing
and stamping, its haunches bunched to launch it
forward one last time. We found them by the gate,
each with a nose in the grass, Churchill chewing,
Grandfather with his teeth out and glasses broken,
and carried him cursing all the way up to the house
to die a day later, and mutton was eaten all winter long.
Henry Lyman’s work has appeared in The Nation, New England Watershed, The New York Times, Poetry, Talking River, TQ, and other periodicals. He edited Robert Francis’s posthumous collection Late Fire, Late Snow and an anthology of New England poetry, After Frost, and has published two books of translations. For twenty years he hosted Poems to a Listener, a radio series of readings and conversation with poets. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and serves as a trustee of Fort Juniper and an executor of Robert Francis’s literary estate.