in an open field
barefoot in the diamond dew of morning
we walk, our fingers locked
your little hand, mine bigger
silently, suddenly (what joan didion calls ‘the ordinary instant’)
a narrow stream of water appears between us
you on one side now
me on the other
bread and butter
our fingers locked
and warmed by the sun
we stop and laugh at the water
coming up now around our wiggly toes
and then we keep walking
you on one side, me on the other
bread and butter
the water deepens
the stream widens
pushing us apart so that
our fingers no longer touch
what should we do?
you say jump over on my side!
but somehow I know I cannot
still reaching out for your little hand
I say you go on
I’ll catch up when I can
and I’ll watch you
even when you can’t see me
For you, Maizie…
What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go.
and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself
thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up into
my face. As though, I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.
— Mary Oliver, The Sweetness of Dogs: Dog Songs
My unused bicycle has been languishing on my patio for a while now, collecting various patio chaff.
I bought it at a garage sale and used it to go back and forth to my daughter’s house two streets away.
Continue reading “Ride like the wind”
Friday morning my phone rings at 7:30. It’s my neighbor. She’s on her way to work and sees a dog running down a nearby busy street. She knows how much I “love helping animals” and she knew “for sure” I’d “want to know about the dog so I could try to catch it.”
She can’t stop because she’s on her way to work. Nevermind she’s the owner and can show up whenever she damn well pleases.
She can’t stop, but she’s SURE that I would want to get out there in the traffic at 7:30 a.m. in 40 degree weather because she knows how much I LOVE HELPING ANIMALS.
Oh my yes. Let me tell you.
Let me tell you how much I love fishing a litter of abandoned kittens out from under a rat-infested shed in the middle of a Texas summer. Or how much I love darting in and out of traffic trying to get to a terrified dog in the middle of the street before a car does. Or how much I love sitting in a car on a cold night, away from home for hours trying to trap starving cats and kittens so they won’t freeze to death. Or how much I love spending my own money for vet care. Or how much I love getting up in the middle of the night to bottle feed a litter of kittens. Or how much I love worrying about the animals I couldn’t help.
And especially — how much I love having my goddamn heart broken over and over because animal overpopulation and suffering caused by human irresponsibility and cruelty never ends. Never.
None of the people I know who “love helping animals” do it because they love it. Not one. They hate it as much as I do. They do it because they know no one else will.
p.s. — Please spay or neuter your pets — and other people’s, too, if you can get away with it.
There are many versions of this gorgeous song. Frank Sinatra’s is one of my favorites, as is Barbra Streisand’s. And, of course, Judi Collins.
I chose this one by Judi Dench because she played Desiree in the London production of A Little Night Music, and I think it best conveys the meaning and feeling of the song.
Also because she is just exquisite.
I have lots of rhythm. Lots. More than most white people. Dancing came naturally to me.
Continue reading “Door-ty dancing”
“..memories and elephants are playin’ in the band.”
All these years I’ve been singing that lyric to CCR’s, “Looking Out My Back Door.”
Continue reading “Mondegreens and elephants”