Nicole Dahan

A Slow Decay

The hairs on his back were black marble,
shimmering from the autumn sun.
He scurried up and down the hilly landscape,
tongue lolling side to side.
Paws wet with mud,
he welcomed me with
a dirty hug and slobbery kiss,
staining my new white shirt
but no part of me flinched in protest.
I went to find a dying tree,
and silently tore off its last living limb.
He sniffed out my trail, and
pounced on the golden,
leafy scepter I held in my hand.
Giggling, as I am sure he was too,
I escaped from his vicious-looking jaws,
and disappeared to the lakeside,
but he followed effortlessly.
I threw his prize into
the undiscovered waters.
He cracked the glossy
blue glass with one swift leap,
sloshing quickly back to shore.
He shook off the shards
that remained on his back,
piercing me with the frigid water.
But I embraced him regardless,
as I always would.

Slowly, the temperatures dropped.
The air thinned and
the sun abandoned earth.
The once-blinding sun seemed so far,
worrying me that its white-hot heat
would never bring me warmth again.
The lump on the left side
of his head fought for visibility
against his thick black forest
laden with glimmering snowflakes.
I followed him out into the cold
and he welcomed me passively.
Noticing maggots on the dead tree,
he slurped them up one by one,
glossy eyes pleading
to me with every bite,
as if begging me to
try some for myself,
or as if begging me to
ease his pain,
of which I did not know.
I picked up a dead branch
and walked to the freezing lake,
listening as he panted,
trying to keep up.
A small ripple erupted out
of the waters as the stick
I threw bobbed up and down.
His interest in the stick was
as absent as the expression
on his face.
This time, he was not going to
thrash through the smooth glass,
this time he would only
leave himself unsatisfied,
whining out in pain
as if his face was slowly
rotting away before me.
On our treacherous journey home,
he plopped down in exhaustion,
blood flooding out of his nose.
Left eye swelling, left ear shrinking,
the bulge on his forehead grew,
swallowing his face.
My arms were lost in the
dense black jungle,
squeezing him hard,
squeezing the life back into him.
Pink snow drew a circle around us,
like a bullís eye, marking the place
I would see him last.


Copyright © 2002-2010 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose © 2002-2010 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission.