Lethal Roy

by Helen Mort

for Brendan

He’s the dog you never
bet on, the one who
always, nearly, might have, will…

The one who steals the show
while no one’s watching,
outrunning surprise,

or doesn’t even have to run,
stitching the race up
from his kennel bed.

Dead afternoons, he pads
down the home strait,
his shadow half a pace ahead

He’s the name traced
in the phone directory
twenty years too late,

the face seen for
a second on the train,
not shaken since.

When he runs,
his breathing’s everything
you never said,

his fur the colour
of the last great snow,
or the colour of nothing.