Climb into the boat dripping wet and shake off,
hand him a mangled duck covered in marsh mud,
and he gives you half his braunschweiger sandwich,
treats you like a gift from the Celtic god Nodens.
But come into the kitchen, coat bone dry and feet clean,
and offer him a perfectly good frozen cow pie,
chunks of ground corn and clover hay still fresh,
he kicks you out the door, hollers “Bad, bad dog!”
What the hell? It’s all retrieving, sharing the bounty.
A fishy, bottom-feeder duck better than a corned cow pie
that you can eat half and roll in the rest when it thaws?
What’s the standard here? Let me in on the secret.
Next year I’m going to say, “Lousy shot! Bad, bad man!”
A broken-winged cripple in the cattails. Scaup. A diver.
“Cocoa – fetch!” Ice floes in the river. Five-knot current.
Remember the cow pie? Fetch your own damned duck!
(In memory of Cocoa, a long-departed chocolate Labrador retriever who had his own ideas about retrieving and sharing the bounty.)