I used to write poems a lot when I was young and then older and then older, in fact I’m still writing them. I put up this photo of our dog Cho because he’s really stepping out. Look at his reach and his legs crossing getting ready for his next reach. You’d never know he’s sixteen – a lot of dog years in that forty-five pound body.
I want my writing to be like his hunting. The quality of his reach is impressive, he is steadfast in his focus and nothing ever stops him – from barking or jumping the fence – he is all about showing. I never don’t know what he means.
My hand went numb the first time I formally sat down to write a poem. Not only did I not know what to write, I couldn’t. I got over it and I wrote for many years, gave readings, became a poet around town. I stopped writing for the longest time because I was telling not showing. I wasn’t paying enough attention to dogs – or any animal-being. My first new poem that I could really relate to was about the death of my dog Esme. Her death stunned me – it was sudden, heart attack – but I had leaned on her in a way I don’t think I’ve ever let myself. The quality of her presence drifted into my soul like air I was breathing without thinking about breath.
Here’s a photo of her
and here’s the poem, and yes, it is the anniversary of her death two years ago.
Esme – Greyhound Friend
She rescued me when I rescued her
Today, Monday, is the last time – at 4:30 pm – that I’ll
Be able to say, “last week Esme was…”
My heart is a landslide of rubble, scary places, bad footing.
Now, this day, this minute a week ago I was lying next to her
I was taking her head in my hand, I was feeling her pulse
Her breath, her eyes on me. I felt her limbs be cold in an odd way.
I won’t forget that. I felt her warm belly. I felt her warm ears
And her cold nose and I thought and thought breathing with her
As I was, breathing without thinking of breath, or that thing that rhymes with it.
That point on the trajectory of each life that seeks level, that is level.
Everything else is up and down, hot and cold, short and long.
But death is a flat line. Death is a long time. Death is No More.
Today, Monday, it is 1:45pm. I didn’t know. I had no clue.
When I put her in my car she was breathing. It never occurred to me
She would stop. Or anything. Nothing much was occurring – and everything.
Halfway there I knew. I kept driving. But I knew.
And didn’t wouldn’t couldn’t know – no.
A week ago right now I had no clue. What a blessing.
Her life was a blessing. She blessed me. Her every move
Her looks – they were “come hither” and I did
I can’t bear to put a period with these sentences
Time will tell
Time is telling me
This is Monday, it is almost 2
I still have 2 ½ hours left
And I don’t even know it