At top of the path to the beach
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.
Ben Banyard's third collection of poetry, Hi-Viz, was published by Yaffle Press in November 2021. He edits Black Nore Review and blogs at https://benbanyard.
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