I show him the tennis ball.
He crashes off a little way,
jerks to a rigid stop, alert, envisages
its flight ahead of him
as it bounces down the steps to shingle.
I launch it as far as I can
and he darts away, wolfing the metres
between him and his quarry.
He pounces on it, already panting.
I call to him, clap my hands,
half believing it might work this time.
After a thoughtful chew
he clutches it in his jaws,
trots off to where the waves lap,
barks muffled by the ball.
He drops it in the sea,
bobs it like a Halloween apple,
enjoys the taste of salt
before the tide catches it,
draws it away, back, then further,
beyond the limit of his courage.