Too young to comprehend, he only knows
The fragile terrier pup in rust and black
Is after him, as if his parents chose
This would-be pet to hunt him down. In play,

Sixteen hard claws go racing click and clack
Across the polished hardwood toward the prey
Ebullient ratters see. All devil’s ears,
He corners, at the open basement door,

A child enmaelstromed in a gale of fears.
Balked there, the terrier nips and yaps for joy,
The winner of their game. The screaming boy,
Not three yet, frightened to his bones’ cold core,

Kicks out with one scuffed Buster Brown,
Punting his terrorizer yelping down
The stairs and ending in the cellar dark
From which is heard no whimper, yip, or bark.

This creature, meant to be a son’s best friend,
Would in the fullness of his time have died
Over half a century ago,
Even had he met his breed’s best end,

At which, perhaps, the boy might well have cried.
In memory lies the one survivor, though.

Poor brute whom toddler fear would not let live,
Take life in this, we beg. Forgive. Forgive.