Had Nino not come along
I would not have known that a dog’s mouth is also its only hand,
Nor that, to a dog, the roots of grass taste sweet.
I would not have known the best treat is cheese
Nor that the crows like it too and so can be our friends as well.
I also would not have known what a peregrine falcon looks like,
How shy a bird it is, and how it likes to sit alone on the tops of empty trees,
Nor how those crows, in numbers, are not scared to chase it from its perch.
Without Nino, I would not have known that dogs make people speak,
Share passing thoughts because of them, sometimes almost haikus as their dogs twist leads.
Like the woman in make-up who explained to me, that all living breathing things have a language,
Except for humans.
I agreed with her that we had lost ours, it was true.
Nino doesn’t like it if we walk too close to where the zoo borders the Downs,
And stands stiff when the lions roar between eight and nice o’clock.
Did you know their roars really can travel miles on the dry winds of Bristol or Botswana?
Were it not for Nino, I would not have made a purpose of this sloping grassy place
And more often than in the bathroom mirror, see my actual face.
I would not have made a special friend of a tree alone on an elevation
About the same age or stage as me, itself again after so much dreaming.
This tree seems so uncomplicated in its approach to living, it could be a peace-maker for politicians.
Once Nino showed me a bench dedicated to a poet from Catalonia who worked at the university,
And readied himself for his early death from cancer by walking here, among the English birds and trees.
It is said he felt nature growing closer to him as he made his homeward journey.
Thanks to Nino,
I have found an empty grove of oaks on an incline by the side,
Where I sometimes say out loud my thoughts as I slide over their shiny leaves that don’t degrade.
These small discoveries are the shiny accumulations of my days, while Nino plays,
And make me feel I might have found a home.