Sometimes they were eager, sometimes they were resigned.
Sometimes they just didn’t understand.
But always, always, when he whistled, they came.
It amuses him, that Death should whistle past a graveyard.
On four feet, or two feet, or no feet at all,
they swam and flew and crawled.
It was worst when they crawled,
the ones who should have run,
although that never lasted for long.
As he whistled, as they came,
feathers returned, fur renewed,
bones remembered youth and so became young.
He likes that part, when they become new.
It’s not something he can do anymore.
His bones are strong, but his flesh is less than memory.
It is not time for him to hear a whistle, and thereby gain his own renewal.
These nightly walks are sheer indulgence,
the one indulgence he permits himself.
“To each your own, little ones,” he tells them,
and off they run, eager to kiss good-bye those they had known
with dreams of cold noses
and whisker tickles
and preening and gentle nibbles
before they follow him home.
Only one stays, amorphous and devoted,
spectral paws at skeletal heels.
Should you hear what sounds like thunder as you struggle
to quit your flesh,
don’t be afraid.
It is only Death’s dog,
letting you know that you are at Death’s door.
It’s simple enough to find.
Just follow the whistle.

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