Seattle Dog: A Eulogy (#24 NaPoWriMo Prompt)

Baby Seattle Toy

Today you were there, just a glimpse.
The humanness in Matilda’s eyes,
The pause in Drover’s step at my command,
Reminded me. And I missed you.

M&D

Your little six-month paws at
Double-time to keep up for our slow jog.
Your tilted head when I left.
Your 9-month-year-old joy at my return.

Baby Seattle Dog crop

You were my relentless alarm clock of love.
My focus and my feeling.
You flew in the cargo hold to new lands.
Scaled castles near Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

Seattle Castles

You jogged with me
In Korea and Colorado,
In Turkey and on Turkey Trots
In Washington State and Washington D.C.

Seattle Gila Wilderness

You were there in my first year of the military
And in my fifteenth.
You watched me leave on each deployment.
You were the best part about coming home.

Seattle Dog

When the vet said “cancer,”
And the x-ray was dotted like pox.
You slept at my feet as I wrote my last dissertation chapter.
I guess I could only cry so much.

Hol Seattle and Me

You missed the conclusion.
Yours was at our dining room table.
The needle slipped in. Your feet
Paddled furiously, then infinite stillness.

Every morning a habitual side-step
To miss your sleeping form
Until we moved to a new house.
You, ashes in a wooden box.

Seattle Snow

Nearly a decade now, and there are two more
Kur-aaaay-zee blue heelers.
I know you would set them straight.
Remind them of the rules.

Matilda and Snowman

I wish you could meet Matilda,
She shares your intensity.
I wish you could meet Drover,
He tries his hardest to be a good dog too.

Drover and his monkey.jpg

I wish you could swim these mountain lakes,
Run the forested trails,
Bark at elk and deer and chipmunks,
Sleep pressed against me.

Seattle Regal

NaPoWriMo

The NaPoWriMo prompt for today was to write a positive eulogy. I don’t know if it’s “cheating,” but this spontaneous eulogy for Seattle Dog that I wrote in November fits the prompt and still moves me…

(And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today, we’d like to challenge you to write an elegy – a poem typically written in honor or memory of someone dead. But we’d like to challenge you to write an elegy that has a hopefulness to it. Need inspiration? You might look at W.H. Auden’s elegy for Yeats, which ends on a note suggesting that the great poet’s work will live on, inspiring others in years to come. Or perhaps this elegy by Mary Jo Bang, where the sadness is shot through with a sense of forgiveness on both sides.)

Seattle Dog

Baby Seattle Toy

Today you were there, just a glimpse.
The humanness in Matilda’s eyes,
The pause in Drover’s step at my command,
Reminded me. And I missed you.

M&D

Your little six-month paws at
Double-time to keep up for our slow jog.
Your tilted head when I left.
Your 9-month-year-old joy at my return.

Baby Seattle Dog crop

You were my relentless alarm clock of love.
My focus and my feeling.
You flew in the cargo hold to new lands.
Scaled castles near Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

Seattle Castles

You jogged with me
In Korea and Colorado,
In Turkey and on Turkey Trots
In Washington State and Washington D.C.

Seattle Gila Wilderness

You were there in my first year of the military
And in my fifteenth.
You watched me leave on each deployment.
You were the best part about coming home.

Seattle Dog

When the vet said “cancer,”
And the x-ray was dotted like pox.
You slept at my feet as I wrote my last dissertation chapter.
I guess I could only cry so much.

Hol Seattle and Me

You missed the conclusion.
Yours was at our dining room table.
The needle slipped in. Your feet
Paddled furiously, then infinite stillness.

Every morning a habitual side-step
To miss your sleeping form
Until we moved to a new house.
You, ashes in a wooden box.

Seattle Snow

Nearly a decade now, and there are two more
Kur-aaaay-zee blue heelers.
I know you would set them straight.
Remind them of the rules.

Matilda and Snowman

I wish you could meet Matilda,
She shares your intensity.
I wish you could meet Drover,
He tries his hardest to be a good dog too.

Drover and his monkey.jpg

I wish you could swim these mountain lakes,
Run the forested trails,
Bark at elk and deer and chipmunks,
Sleep pressed against me.

Seattle Regal

Meditations With Matilda

Sometimes she makes eye contact with me and I fall into her coffee-brown intensity and out of my world.

In these mind-melding moments, I try to see the world through her eyes. Right now. Here. And now. She isn’t thinking about groceries or cleaning the house. She is waiting for the next moment. After the one she is already so vividly in.

Every ounce of her Blue Heeler body resides in polar extremes: pure, unadulterated energetic pursuit of life–and sleep. When awake, she waits, absorbed in the moment.

A sound and she’s at the front porch in high-pitched insistence. I admire her intensity in the here and now; I doubt she ever misses the opportunity to find more.

I think she has appointed herself Master of the Universe and feels the need to control everything around her. It’s a trait for her breed: for her it’s an art form. Tater, the three-legged cat, pegs to a new spot. She cleans his face and settles him. Gus, the three-year-old horse, walks up to the fence, she remonstrates that he should walk differently. I let her out the back and she pogos on the sliding glass door until I realize my mistake. She knows what she wants. She’s sure she knows what you want.

Have you ever heard that dogs and their owners begin to look like each other?  Begin to act like each other?  It’s about which came first.  Or maybe that I would intentionally find a dog whose personality was destined to match my own.  I make a daily effort to resign my own self-appointment as Master of the Universe. I am a junkie for memes on the topic: “When you can’t control what is happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what is happening. That is where your power is.” And: “As long as everything is exactly the way I want it, I’m totally flexible.”  Of course, even as I was drafting this blog, one of my favorite philosophers on these topics, Anna Blake, published my exact intentions in her blog “Part Two: Now I’m Afraid” when she said, “And while we’re being honest, one more bit of sideways truth. However it happened that your trust was damaged, it wasn’t that you lost control of your horse. You never had control. As a recovering Type-A who thought she could steer her horse, and the rest of her life, to brilliant happiness, I feel qualified to say the sooner we get over thinking we can even control our hair, the better we’ll be.”  What, I can’t control my hair? Breathe.

Blog image Matilda running

Matilda even approaches rest with intensity. From the earliest moments we have shared our lives together, she has always fallen asleep when she stares up at me. At first she bores into me like some sort of hypnosis, then the blinks begin. Pretty soon she’s tipping sideways and catching herself just before the fall, identical, really, to me trying to stay awake in my freshmen physics classroom.

blog-image-matilda-sleeping.jpg

She sleeps with all her might.  Her sturdy body doesn’t allow her legs to drape easily, so even in rest, she appears stiff and ready to take on the world.  She reminds me of someone.

In the between moments, when she sneaks onto the couch and stretches herself along my leg and tips an ear back to acknowledge my strokes down her slick fur, we reach a kind of stasis. She might allow me to watch the world just a moment, unaware that I’ve lost myself in petting her.

We pause in the stillness of our center as the universe moves around us.

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