Poem: Swallowed


Some people

enter our lives

to share some time

Laughs around a cafe meal

hikes on Goddess mountain trails

and quiet moments sitting near

Together dancing

sweetly in sync

characters stepping

upon the stage

Playing a part

with heart and words

till the performance

fades away

Then all that’s left

are props and scenes

covered with ancient dust

And those who played

a starring role

are swallowed

by velvet wings

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Poem: The Egg


I found myself a purple egg

under clustered chatting trees

Filled with birds

taking flight

for lands I’d like to be

They fly a thousand miles

through heights of dizzy air

And down below

I wander lost

on roads of dusty gravel

The dirt is kicked

and shoes are soiled

dry heart cracked and broken

But then one day

when hope was lost

and trees were silent cold

Upon the ground

below a nest

a gift rolled oddly near

The shape so smooth

its oval walls

and color lilac paint

What lives within this object

why did it choose to fall

A purple egg

left behind

when flock has flown so far

It gently seemed to come

to me

walking down this sandy trail

Left behind apparently

this treasure sits so still

Fragile castle what do you hold

inside your bony shell

Gently then I pick it up

knowing we are meant to be

Holding it in my tender hands

this purple globe

is life

and when it cracks and looks about

then we will both be

set free

 

Poem: Lying Down


Once young

peeking to see

wispy seeds blow

close-up on

green tufts of hair

while frantic

insects buzz

in summers air

While watching

big blue windy white

marching puffy shapes

swim, float and fly

slowly by

Peering through finger blinds

sun shadow so cool

paints silhouettes

then splits its billow

making miniscule

circle spot dots

to dance blind before

shuttered thoughts

In pastures tiny forest

looking up

with loving eyes

adore

****

Now old

graying curls tossed light

upon pillowed crib

Staring up

at cryptic crack

its hieroglyph speaking truth

of lost and boundless youth

Lying still

now here inside

blocked against wheat

and birds

the sky is covered

with plastered paint

spine pressed upon

the bed

But in the mind

the world is there

floating overhead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Know?


After a call today from my Vet that a neighbor called them that my dog once again got through a window, this time closed, and was found a half a mile down the road at the town beach–I must now make a serious decision about him. This is the fourth time he has broken through a window to get out, a new and strange behavior. Each time he comes home more and more disabled and closer and closer to death.

I have spoken to both vets at my office, one my dear friend, and they both seem to feel it’s some kind of mental/emotional/anxiety behavior coming on in his old age. It could be a brain tumor, but there would be no way to know and there has been no other indication besides this jumping out of windows.

Today he had to climb on a table and push open a very difficult window to open. Once again I feel awful because I did not lock it thinking there is no way he could possibly do such a feat, especially given he is still recovering from his last episode. But indeed he did!

I’m told dogs have jumped out of two-story windows at such times. Now I’m hearing all sorts of horrid tales of peculiar behaviors as dogs age. But I personally have never experienced such things in my older dogs.

It has always been a simple–not easy–but clear-cut choices to get to the point where it is time to put an animal down. They have had cancer, respiratory issues or are near to death in other physical ways. But this is the first situation where I must decide if a mental situation warrants suffering.

Certainly whatever is spurring him on has become a physical situation as now he can barely walk, has cuts and sores all over him, has cuts on his eyes and a myriad of other difficulties.

But just when I think it’s time, he rallies…starts eating and going to the bathroom again. Then boom: out the next window! We discussed medicating him or crating him, but would that be quality of life for an old dog?

My vet said to give it the weekend, see how he fairs from this jaunt. I’ve asked my dog to tell me what he wants. The vet says they never die on their own–of course. So it will most likely be up to me to glean from him what’s best. I’m only hoping I will know when it’s time.

Poems: My Days


Like  screeching

Railway cars

Thrown from

Parallel tracks

In twisting terror

From its diverted path-

Or miles and miles of

Kansas highway

Monotonous metronome

Hammering horizons-

As a string of pearls

Boringly beaded

One after another in

Man-made sameness-

The hum of my days

Sweeping steadily with

speed

My ears burn with the

noise

My eyes sting with the

blur

My heart aches with the

loss

My days

Where have they gone?

 

 

 

Zoo Musings: Ernie


This is an old article written over 20 years ago. It was written when I was a docent at the Burnett Park Zoo in Syracuse NY and writing for “The Inside Track”–the newsletter especially for the volunteers.

ernie

 

I would guess the main reason many of us are zoo volunteers is because we love animals. We have our favorites and become attached to them. We all seem to share feelings of sadness when an animal dies, even when we may not know that animal personally. How often have we heard of an animal’s death at a meeting and all sigh and groan together sharing the loss? It touches our hearts more than it might most people. And so, many of you out there will understand how my life has been effected by the recent loss of my dog Ernie.

Of the volunteers that I know, many of you share your lives and homes with pets. You all know that I do too: my pony, my goats, my four cats and until recently, my dog. All my animals are wonderful and contribute in a special way to my life, but I have to say that none touched me like my pup.

Ernie was about five years old and came to live with us as a puppy from the Humane Center. He was about 11 weeks old, had been there a while and was pretty goofy looking. I fell instantly in love and told my husband he was the dog for me. We knew he might get big being a German Shepard/terrier mix and he ended up tipping the scale at 70 pounds.

He was my constant friend, sticking by me through an extremely difficult pregnancy. I was home all the time (throwing up mostly) and ol’ Ern was by my side despite my unpleasant behaviors. We shared that first year together pretty much alone and that attachment was to remain permanent.

I said he turned out the be a big dog, and his goofy puppy appearance transformed into a mature goofiness (still the floppy ear and a full-blown beard that become home to many a grossness). Hannah (my daughter) arrived and Ernie accepted her happily despite my Mother-In-Law’s warnings of the dog who chewed off the baby’s milk-laden fingers. Not my pup–he was one of the family.

A day came when I realized that his big galutedness needed some taming–I might have thought it was cute that a 70 pound dog jumped up to greet me, but my Mother-In-Law most definitely did not. So off we went to obedience class. Others didn’t have faith in Ernie, thinking him big AND dumb, but I knew he would rise to the occasion and show everyone how wrong they were. He was a comparatively old pupil, but I was undaunted because I knew of Ernie’s desire to please. And show ’em we did. He was a star pupil, learning everything put before him, not bothering with the other dogs and not peeing in class. He always knew when we were going to class and would get all juiced up–it was our time together and we loved it.

I still say we got robbed.  He only came away with second in his class. The judge had her eye on him when he did his one wrong thing and missed the wrong doings of the dog who took first. The whole class was shocked Ernie didn’t win and I was disappointed. But it didn’t seem to bother Ernie in the least.

He came to be my running buddy. When we moved to Otisco my dream came true and he and I were able to jog together in the woods. He would get off his leash and be able to experience the ancient feelings of his ancestors as we romped through meadows and woods. He’d always answer my call, even when face to face with a deer because this was the part of him that was bonded with me. I loved to be able to let him run free in safe territory and always believed it wasn’t fair to let an animal roam where they could get hurt.

But I got lazy… The quiet of Dutch Hill Road lured me into a false sense of security. Very little traffic, barely any pedestrians to follow and only an occasional fellow canine traveler. The winter up here has been brutal with wind chills of 20 below, snow almost waist deep, so I got complacent. I began to let Ernie out to do this thing by himself. Only for minutes at a time–he was never one to like to be out by himself–even in warm weather he’d whimper to come in to be with us. He’d stick around…..

On the last day I saw him alive, I had just let him out for a pee. I was on the phone and was looking out the window at him. He was in the driveway looking toward the road with ears perked (even the floppy one). I chatted a couple more minutes, but I must have sensed something because I rung off so I could call him in. I did–he didn’t answer. I got my coat on and started outside. I stepped out into the driveway and looked toward the road and in an instant took in the scene: a scene I can’t forget and wouldn’t wish on anyone who has a dog they love.

A truck, my neighbor and my dog lying in the road. He was in his death throes by the time I got to him. I was hysterical and consumed with grief. My pup was gone. No chance to say goodbye, to hug him, to love him one more time. My road is quiet, but not quiet enough.

My neighbor offered to take him (he owns a farm) and without thinking, wrapped in my sorrow, I said OK. Now I wish I hadn’t. I almost went that night, learning he was still on the truck, to wrap him in his favorite blanket and say goodbye. Friends talked me out of it, but I wish I gone. I do have his ashes now and ordered a dogwood bush to plant when warmer weather arrives, but the emptiness I feel is vast and my guilt lurks close to the surface.

For awhile all I could picture when I thought of Ernie was that last scene of the road. Some nights ago though, I was coming home late at night. I turned onto Dutch Hill and a winter fog was rolling in. I had a tape in, a new one bought to help calm my nerves. I reached the top of the mountain, the place where he had been hit. I stopped and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I saw the fog rolling before my headlights and let the music fill my heart.

In my mind’s eye I saw Ernie running, loping through the woods as he loved to do. I turned up the driveway and realized the last time I saw him alive he was listening as though something was calling him. I got out of the truck and heard a dog barking somewhere on the mountain. I listened to the dog, surrounded by the silence of the night and hoped that someday I would run with Ernie again.