A Boy at the Mercy of a Man

As I walked, I saw this man with his dog
He wouldn’t stop yanking on the leash
Like working a lawnmower, hacking to a start
The dog yelped and screamed between gagging breaths
Its tongue flailed wildly
But the man wouldn’t stop.
The dog lunged and tried to get away
From the one who had fed it all these years
If it could, it might plead
Why are you doing this?
All it could do was choke and spit
puddles of vomit in the road
and drag itself in circles desperately.
But the man wouldn’t stop.
The leash tore the skin off of his hands
He was relentless
He wrenched the leash again and again and again
And the dog was helpless
An animal at the mercy of a man
who wouldn’t stop.
After a few moments, the dog quietly gave up and lied down dead in the road
Bits of gravel stuck to the blood in its fur.

***

As I watched the dog I thought of Kumar
A boy at the mercy of a man
A slave, I imagine
somewhere in the slums of India.
His small bony fingers compressed like mortar between bricks
His nails cracking and peeling back from wear
Tied at the neck and jerked from side to side
“But I am not well,” Kumar begs.
The man kicks him to the ground and steps on the boy’s aching hands.
Kumar –
a boy at the mercy of a man.
But I can only imagine
I don’t see him on my walk
He’s abused like a dog in secret
He’s tied up in a dungeon
On the other side of the world

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