Pook at 10


Pook had his 10th birthday 3 days ago. I took him to the veterinarian. I’m sure he would have chosen to do something else, like go swimming in the river in his shorts and t-shirt or wander the neighborhood “Building streets”, imagining a new little city, fitting and layering his own roads and highways upon what already exists.

But we went to the vet. He happily listened to MPR with me because that’s the kind of boy he is, curious and easily engaged.

He is the kind of boy who makes up jokes like this:

          “Why does time fly faster as you grow older?”

          “Because Earth’s rotation speeds up.”

 He is the kind of boy with quickly shifting passions. He can move from zero to frustrated fury in less than a second. It’s like a frozen, forgotten can of pop warming in the back seat of the car. BOOM!.

He’s the kind of boy who is continually surprised by his sensitivities.

          “Mama, when you told Betty we’d get her poor little body fixed up, it made me cry. Look.”

Betty has Heartworm and, for the last 10 days, mostly what I’ve been thinking about is her, imagining a hand full of cooked long spaghetti wriggling in her heart. Evil worms and their spawn.

And he’s also the kind of boy who keeps reminding me that everything will be fine, that I have to trust.

Now I’m reminding you.




I noticed that you keep checking your email. What kind of message are you waiting on? Nothing in particular? Just something to interrupt the waiting? Waiting is a bitch, isn’t it? And I know it’s hard to pass the time now that you’ve quit smoking or whatever it was you gave up.

I know, too, that you have to engage the mind, become your smallest self and create something even if it’s only a drawing of a person with no arms and no legs or a poem where every other word is a unique expletive.

Forget about physical work, unless the plan is to fold the laundry into Origami shapes. Vacuuming is out, unless you name each strand of fur, each spider you suck up. Mowing the lawn is out, too, unless you begin at the peak of the day’s heat, set a timer, say, for 15 minutes, to mow the whole yard, front and back.

It is imperative that you don’t embark on any big tasks, like reading a whole book. If you do choose to read, read only a couple sentences. Read them out loud. Read them slowly. Think about each word and how it connects to the next. If you read any other way, it’s certain you will be thrown back to where you began and you’ll only add to your frustration, having retained nothing, having accomplished nothing.

That’s the irony, the challenge. You want the time to pass but you don’t want to waste your time.

Well, go ahead and check your email. There might be a message. There’s certain to be a message if you compose it yourself.



What I saw

This week, I saw an opossum, out back, in the very night, circling a small circle in gravel. Only once before have I seen an opossum. We called it a rabipelado. It was balanced on top of a rusty, chain-link fence in the yard where the mountain fell.

I also saw a woodchuck, standing in prairie dog style, not far from the pontoons on the river, beside a grey, leafless tree. It must’ve been  that I’d seen a woodchuck before because its departing waddle was familiar.

And I saw a small, black, curly-haired dog. It was something I’d never seen before, the way he laughed away from his owner, cresting the roof, running down, then off, like a buffalo over a cliff.

One long cry. One short.

The wave of the girl behind him receded then, a moment later, came pounding through the house. The hedge wouldn’t allow us to see anything except for the father’s hands above his head, a helpless gesture.

We stood as witnesses. Pook was on the curb and Betty and I were in the middle of the road.

Be okay, be okay, be okay, be okay, be okay, be okay, I said, keeping true to these words until I could no longer mouth them.

Then we walked away from knowledge, until the next day.

The mother was in the yard.

I said, “We saw what happened to your dog. Is he okay?”

She said, “Yes, he’s okay. Sore, but he’s okay.”