Friday, October 29, 2010

Stay (another canine elegy)

If there is a heaven, and if it looks like Barton Cove on a cool autumn day after the campers have gone away and the trees have lost their leaves; and if in this heaven you hurl yourself through woods following some scent, some noise, or nothing; and if you run away and then come back, in this celestial place, to check on me or not check on me, but just because your roving has led you close enough so that I can see you even if you don’t notice me; and if I wave a bag of treats and call your name, Daisy, come to me, Daisy; and if you come and even if you don’t, I will be in this heaven some day.

But not today, today Barton Cove is just Barton Cove: campers (though only a few) and trees and leaves. Today you lumber by my side and struggle to keep up. You don’t wander as you once did, and I don’t chase.  Today you stay, by my side. Today it is humid, July, and a storm is on the way. Darkening skies and we walk on: aged hound, timid master.

But what’s this? Down the embankment, toward the river, to see what the shore has to offer. Maybe this is heaven after all, where the lame shed their canes, and the blind are given sight, where an old hound dog can once again dart away on a course set in motion by a scent on the wind. Maybe this is heaven, and I can walk alone without imagining future walks without you. And if this is heaven, I won’t ever have to come here alone.  And if this is heaven, you will come back to me — and you do, with dead fish hanging in your clenched jaws: divine prize, trophy, you good dog.

                            .... this story appears in the current issue of Sleet Magazine