Different worlds




The river is ripped from side to side, V-shaped water scars opening to the shore, a swarm of mini jet boats buzzing like brainless bees. Toys for rich kids intent on wide-grinned entertainment, they tear up the quiet, stir up the river mud where silent fish swim deeper, suffocating in water suddenly airless.

On the bank, a boy sits surrounded by his dog’s pups, blind and seal-fat, newborns. His belongs are scattered about a sleeping bag—plastic carriers of clothes and a sack of dog biscuits. Dope fumes smell sweet. Life runs its course. Seven pups dead already, six left to fight their corner. Mother watches, wary as life runs its course, here, rounded by a puppy’s sleep. Laughter from the boaters. Fun floats like clouds of dope fumes. The boy watches his pups. Another life.


Joy in a soft day,

birth and any mother’s love—

precious quiet falls.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

21 thoughts on “Different worlds”

  1. I am not a fan of noisy boats, cars, or when people come down the street in ATV’s. I don’t understand the idea—“It’s beautiful weather. Let’s get on some noisy bit of machinery and ride about.”

    The mother dog in the photo really does look maternal. She looks like she’s really watching over her babies.
    I really like your haiku. 🙂

    1. Thanks Merril. The dog in the photo is very like ‘Boulette’ the dog I met this morning. She raced over to chase Finbar away just in case he had the idea of going to look at her puppies, then she came over to me and laid her head in my lap to be stroked. There are too many dogs about, I know but the lives of these homeless young people revolve around their dogs. They’re their family. The world looks very different from their level.

  2. Sorry.. Let me finish.. The kids and the boy are living two different lives. The latter has nothing and yet is still caring for the puppies.. There escape is the same.. (it is perhaps the best word for the fumes) and yet.. the last line precious quiet falls.. Is beautiful yet bewildering cause I wonder if those hungry puppies noises and those running motors are stirring the same reaction?

    1. It was a scene I witnessed this morning. A group of eight or so speed boats with a couple of young people in each were racing up and down a stretch of the river. The motors were making an irritating noise and they were churning up the river which the fish don’t like. On the bank, there was a homeless boy with his dogs. For him there was no high octane excitement, just his dog and her pups. His belongs fitted into a couple of carrier bags. I imagined that for him, his ear would be tuned into the silence of sleeping dogs, and he probably wouldn’t even notice the noise from the river. The dope probably helps. Two different worlds.

      1. But your writing made them connect (at least for me). I was reminded of the old saying, Poor give, Rich store..

      2. But still the last line precious quiet falls.. It gave me chills.. I hear the rumbling of hungry puppies causing the same pain in the ears as the motors.. I don’t know if it was intentional. Humanity is truly weeping.. Great presentation with very few words..

      3. It wasn’t intentional, but you’re right, there’s a lot in the quiet and it isn’t all good quiet. Seven of the puppies have already died, so he must be listening out for the kind of quiet that means sleep and not death.

      4. That’s the beauty of the word fall, it can be a sudden arrival (meaning sleep) but it can also mean a fall in melody.. Hmm.. I like it.. It opens so many interpretations.. Fulfilling the role of haibun..

  3. I have always wondered what a dog mother thinks, when she loses one or more of her pups. Some of them dig a grave for the departed soul, while some mutely watch the child being taken away. Is acceptance that easy, as it appears to an outsider?

    1. I don’t know how animals manage grief, Reena, but we know that they experience it. There’s probably a degree of pragmatism in their attitude that human beings don’t have. If a dog has thirteen puppies and seven die, that still means six to look after, feed and protect. She can’t afford to have a breakdown.

  4. This actually made me cry. The juxtaposition of two starkly different worlds within touching distance of one another – a sad metaphor for the whole world.

    1. The ‘punk à chien’ subculture is pretty detestable on many levels, but there are a lot of young, isolated people who live for their dogs. It’s not that it’s admirable in itself, but I still can’t help but compare the preoccupations of a lad with six puppies to watch over while Boulette goes to stretch her legs, and the fun-searching idiocy of the golden youth wrecking the river and turning it into a fairground attraction.

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