a poem by
RICHARD LUFTIG | Professor + Poet
So many times, we pass one another every day on the street without a word. But having a dog on the leash seems to be an open invitation to speak to other dog walkers. Every morning and late afternoon, I would encounter a Chinese woman, who took such joy in her small dog darting about, that I simply had to speak to her. Even her lack of command of English and my total ignorance of Chinese seemed to make a difference in the common bond of dogs. But what does she do with the rest of her day and does she wonder what I do with mine? These are questions I’d love to learn the answers to, but probably never will.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo
WE meet them, my old dog and I,
As we walk along the road toward
Late morning: The young Chinese woman
In the orange pants and her poodle puppy,
Off the leash, bounding with an early
Enthusiasm and joy I find hard
To remember. Her dog runs,
Circles mine, sticks his nose
Where it doesn’t belong, asks
Again and again if we have
Been anywhere interesting
Lately. The woman laughs.
Claps her hand, repeating:
Say hi, say hi while I try to make
Conversation about today’s weather
That I hope she will understand.
We say goodbye and continue
In opposite directions but knowing
That in just a little while on our return
Route, we will meet again, I, dreaming
Of hot coffee, she, holding the dog
In her arms, singing to it some sweet
Song in a language I do not understand,
Each passing like vectors on a grid
Toward the infinity of our day.
Professor + Poet
I am a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in California. My poems and stories have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in, Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Two of my poems recently appeared in Ten Years of Dos Madres Press.