In the park near the center of the city
There was a rickety bench that people walked past every day
Barely registering the bundle of rags strewn across it
Even when it moved
When the man covered in those rags sat up
And watched them as they averted their eyes
As they walked by.
One day, a scruffy little white dog
Jumped onto the bench
And curled up with the man
Who hadn’t felt the loving touch of another being
In forever and a day
And the walls around him began to melt
So he shared the food he had scrounged up
And the water he had saved
And the dog knew this man was a king
For saving his life
After being discarded like trash
Because he was no longer the cute little puppy
That had been brought home all those years ago.
Every day, the man’s locked soul opened a bit more
As he learned love.
He took the dog for walks
And whatever food he found always went to the dog first
Even if he went hungry.
One day, the man said to the dog,
“What is your name?”
And he searched the dog’s eyes until the dog barked
And the man smiled.
“Oh, of course, Prince!” he exclaimed.
And Prince wagged his tail because the man knew him
And he knew the man’s heart
And the man was now forever his person.
When people passed the bench
They no longer ignored the man
Or turned their heads when they saw him
Instead, they smiled when they saw Prince
And asked if they could pet him
Or give him money for food
So that Prince wouldn’t go hungry.
And when the skies threatened rain
One man brought Prince a raincoat
And a woman provided a tent
So Prince would stay dry
And she added that of course, the man could stay in there, too.
Spring gave way to summer
Which then gave way to autumn
And the air chilled.
Soon snow covered the ground
And weighed down the branches of the trees
Yet the man and Prince
Still sat on the bench every day
Watching the world go by
And the people who braved the cold
Worried so about little Prince
And how he would get through the winter
So they dropped off warm coats for him
And food that the man and Prince could share
In their tiny tent.
And then there was a terrible storm
That blanketed the city in snow for weeks
And nobody walked through the park
Until the snowdrifts began to melt
And the ice thawed
And that’s when people realized
The bench was empty
And the tiny tent was gone
As were the man and his little dog.
For days, people checked to see if the man and Prince had returned
But there was no sign of them
And soon they stopped looking.
But when they passed the empty bench
A memory of the scruffy white dog touched them for a moment
And then they shook their heads and continued on their way.
Nancy Machlis Rechtman has had poetry and short stories published in Your Daily Poem, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, Impspired, Discretionary Love, Fresh Words, The Writing Disorder, Young Ravens, and more. Nancy has had poetry, essays, and plays published in various anthologies. She wrote freelance Lifestyle stories for a local newspaper, and she was the copy editor for another paper. She writes a blog called Inanities.