Auckland New Zealand
Dark clouds in sombre brooding rolled
The seas to darkest grey,
As in the hermit’s croft, a cold
Chill stole the light away.
Old Jim knelt by the fireside close
And stroked the fur so warm;
He looked beyond the old black nose
Into the eyes of Storm.
And what he saw there took him back
Some fifteen years before,
When elements combined to wrack
His Scottish island shore........
The gale in squalling anger thrashed,
Black thunderclouds were spoiling.
Cruel rain in glassy needles lashed
The sea to cauldron boiling.
Wild lightning set the skies afire,
Harsh thunder clamoured scorn;
Such tempest did all hell conspire!
The night the pup was born.
Old Jim, by lamp of kerosene,
In meagre shed presided
Upon a birth which might have been
By Providence provided.
‘Twas at the tumult’s raging height
Beyond the ‘witching hour
Those first drawn breaths in dead of night
Defied the thunder’s power.
And in the cold, soft, eerie light
That was the grey dawn’s form,
In memory of that fearful night
He named his new pup..... Storm.
‘Twixt man and Border Collie grew
Such bond of faith unspoken
Which through the years was born anew
And still remains unbroken.
Oft in routine where doubt would lie,
Approval would prevail
By telepathic amber eye,
Or wag of bushy tail.
So in that sparse, unyielding land
Bereft of nature’s frills;
Storm learned survival’s sleight of hand
And honed his shepherd skills.
As when that mighty taloned, beaked
Assassin of the skies
In predatory plummet peaked,
None heard the young lamb’s cries....
Save Storm, who from his watch-post raced
With speed of bullet rifled.
Not since, that hawk, by jaws embraced
With lamb nor flock had trifled!
Old Jim recalled the moment well,
When fishing was his love;
He sore misjudged the ocean swell
‘spite barking from above..........
The towering wave that plucked him
From his rugged rocky pier,
His vision rendered vaguely dim;
The hand of death was near.......
In depths of frenzied tidal rip
On jagged rocks he smote,
Then felt the jaws of courage grip
The collar of his coat.
Storm pulled with all his strength and might
In mortal combat matched;
‘Til from the crazed foam’s deadly bite
His master’s life he snatched.
Thus many halcyon years passed
In work and play and slumber
But fate’s cold hand in dice-play cast
One final deadly number.
Old Jim grew weaker, pale and gaunt
He knew his time was brief.
And radiation scarce would daunt
This creeping tissue thief.
Time’s rolling stream flowed, unrestrained.
Yet Storm, he knew the score;
As Father Time, alas, constrained
His legs, once swift and sure.
Now, in the embers’ dying glow
Jim raised his trembling hand,
And softly stroked the face that so
Much seemed to understand.
Then, as he closed his eyes in prayer,
And life began to end,
Upon his cheek, a last kiss there
Came from his dearest friend.
Outside, the moon, in mourning bowed,
Her silver gleam in hiding
As once again, the thunder growled
In dark, foreboding tiding.
As Storm lay down beside Old Jim
The air grew damp and colder.
He rested weary head and limb
Upon the old man’s shoulder.
And as the rain began to fall
Upon that lowly croft
Storm heard his master’s final call
Ride on the gale aloft.
So well he knew that nature’s power,
The herald of his birth,
Bore tribute to the very hour
He’d end his time on earth.
On midnight’s breath of rolling gale
Two spirits rose as one
No bond of love can time assail
.........In Heaven’s morning sun.
©1999 Rod Walford