This week’s DAILY posts are about dogs and books and love and grief. If you read my Facebook page, you know of my grief over my loss of my dog Teddy after my dog Archie died a bit over two years ago. After fifteen years, I do not have their presence in my life. I have been bereft, my brokenness that thing that once again glistens in the darkness. The grief one feels for the loss of a beloved animal is specific to that animal, but it also lances all the grief we carry around within us that we subsume perhaps in the love for that animal. I have been reading the novel The Friend by Sigrid Nunez which is a a kind of reverie about grief and how a Great Dane’s presence both symbolizes and soothes it by the insistence of its size much like the size of the grief itself.
This morning I remembered a poem I wrote about Teddy and Archie 8 years ago. It is not as good as I remembered its being, but goodness was not the point. I just wanted to honor them. And maybe I knew one day in the future when the size of my own grief would lumber about in my life once more, I’d go digging for it as if I were Archie and Teddy digging for the love of digging and finding down there some mundane thing that in their moment of finding it becomes less mundane. They’d even give it a momentary magnificence in their utter happiness in having found it and brought it to me so I could mistakenly think I had to admire it. It was not admiration they were seeking but the sharing of their happiness. It was a magnificent fifteen years in so many ways. But now I realize how momentary it really was.
FOR ARCHIE AND TEDDY AS WE WALKED ALONG THE BEACH AT SUNSET ON OCTOBER 14, 2012
They ran along the sand
all paws and shit and piss and noses.
I followed, as always, a one-man band,
my cymbals: my supposes.
If they were I and I were they
would I wag my tail, would their one heart race
When we saw each other or lay
down for a nap, the day’s one growl-less note of grace?
Would, indeed, their lone growl be more fierce
if they faced life a man, aged fifty-six?
Would mine, both doubled and diluted, as fifty-six nears
death, be replaced with barks and licks?
But instead of changing lives – two dogs, this human –
we walked along the sand as something new,
Three creatures woven on a lonely loom and
threaded forever together, a furry fleshy crew.
We then spotted, all three at once, a glint
of sea glass washed, liked us, ashore.
All three of us, staring, knew what it meant.
Its broken beauty made us four.
Here is a photo of Archie and Teddy and me by Matt Edge that ran in the The Times Magazine over in London when it did a profile of us. Not the best photo of them but it does capture their patience with me.