by Allan Lake

I feel for those cold hands as she fishes
rubbish from Elwood canal. Her labrador
named Sitboy, tethered to nearby tree,
stands on guard then flops down, off-guard.
You would not want to touch the stuff
floating in that run-off but bare hands
work mechanically to gather bits of crap,
soiled stuff, a drowned blue face mask.
Must be a calling. No high-vis vest or
sign to indicate city worker doing what
they get paid to do. Dressed for a stroll,
out with her doggy, then just knew what
she had to do – without rubber gloves.

Canal, formerly a creek, is long, choking.
When to call it a day when human refuse
just keeps coming, heading for weary bay
then out to sea and possibly back again.
But, there she is, bent over in grey track-
suit, grey as today’s sky, as planet forecast.
Unlucky lab, a retriever, a water dog,
is grounded, adopts snooze mode.
He’s lost interest and after giving
him my regards, so have I.

Allan Lake, originally from Saskatchewan, has lived in Vancouver, Cape Breton, Ibiza, Tasmania, Western Australia and Melbourne. Publications include poetry collection Sand in the Sole (Xlibris, 2014) and latest chapbook My Photos of Sicily (Ginninderra Press 2020). Lake won the Lost Tower Publications Competition 2017 (UK), the Melbourne Spoken Word Poetry Fest 2018 and, as part of a competition, publication in New Philosopher in 2020.