Barnegat Bay

by Derek Osborne

I whispered, “I love you”

and then, “Goodbye”

face buried deep in his warm winter coat.

Snow crunching hoof steps,

trusting, I led him

down to the pines where we'd whistled in winter.

“Breeding's a business,”

the trainer's voice echoed.

Earth mixed with snow,

the rifle cracked hard and

his young body fell onto knees that betrayed.

I shoveled my tears,

leapt out of boyhood,

“A man now,” they said.

I dared not show them.