A pillow

Along the towpath in a dimming light my dog snuffles in the ornamental shrubs and rolls on recently cut grass.  Nearby is a dark shape that I soon recognise as a human figure on its side with knees drawn slightly up. I wonder if it is alive, and see when closer, it is a shabby man, his head on the pillow of his collie dog.  It’s Good Friday, the ground still holding the winter’s chill.  Nearby, discarded, is an empty beer can.  I walk on and pass a couple seated on a bench, hear the sound of their kisses, so keep my eyes averted, although my dog knows no such courtesy and goes to investigate. Passing houses, I smell honeyed spice cake, and further on, the sulphur tang of a lit match.  Street lamps come to life along the embankment and across the bridge, throwing their reflections like yellow ric-rac on the water.  I think on the curled figure of the man on the grass.  I want to give him a blanket, soup, something, but return to my place of plenty, pondering only the nonjudgmental warmth of a dog’s fur.

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