Morrie’s Ball: NaPoWriMo–last day for 2020!


Morrie’s Ball

I throw the ball and throw the ball,
over my head in an arc to the garden downhill from the pool
where every midnight I do aerobic exercises and yoga,
trying to stem the freezing-up of joints,
the spreading of spare tires around the waist.

I am allergic to the sun,
and so these sometime-between-midnight-
and-3 a.m.-sessions in the pool

have come to be habit,
with both me and the small black shaggy dog
who leaves his bed in the doggie domain,
no matter how late I make the trip to the pool,
carrying his green tennis ball.

It is the latest in a long progression of balls
chewed to tatters until they are incapable of buoyancy
that sink to the pool bottom to be picked up by toes,
toed to hand, and thrown down again.
When they are replaced in the morning with a fresh ball,
he still searches for the old one,
like a child’s nigh nigh, grown valuable through use.

Again and again he drops the ball in the pool
and I interrupt every fifth repetition to throw the ball.
Like an automaton, he returns with precision,
then is off like a flash so fast
that sometimes he catches the ball I throw before it hits the ground.
This little dog, faithful in his returns,
sometimes jumps up on the grassy mound
I’ve made for him in a big flower pot by the pool,
chews the ball,
drops and catches it before it falls to the water,
drops and catches,
as though teasing me
the way houseguests might have teased him in the past with a false throw.

Or, sometimes he drops it on the grass,
noses it to the edge and then catches it before it falls.
Over and over, constructing his own games.
Then, bored or rested up from his countless runs,
he lofts the ball into the water precisely in front of me
and I pause in my front leg kicks
to resume my obligation.

But this night, he returns listless after the third throw.

“Go get the ball, Morrie,” I command, and he runs with less speed and vigor down the hill to the garden. I hear him checking out his favorite places,  but he does not return, and when I call him, finally, he returns, ball-less, jumps up on his mound and falls asleep.

He’s getting old, I think.
Hard to imagine this little ball of energy
as being anything but a pup.
He’ll bring it to me tomorrow, I think.
But tomorrow
and tomorrow
and tomorrow
brings no Morrie with a ball.

When I go down to the hammock the next day,
his enthusiastic leap up onto my stomach
is the same, his same insistence
that I rub his ears, his belly, his back.
But no ball proffered for a throw.
No Morrie returning again and again for more.

I am feeling the older for it,
like a mother who sees her last child
off to University or down the aisle, fully grown,
but I am reassured three days later,
when I arise from the hammock
to climb the incline up to the house
and see lodged firmly in the crotch of the plumeria tree
five feet off the ground: Morrie’s ball.

He sees me retrieve it
and runs enthusiastically up to the pool with me,
where I peel off my clothes
and descend like Venus into the pool,
arc my arm over,
and throw the ball.
He is back with it
before I get to the other end of the pool.
If they could see
through the dense foliage
that surrounds the pool,
what would the neighbors think
of this 72-year-old skinny dipping,
lofting a ball over her head
for her little dog
in broad daylight?

Morrie and I don’t care.

Happy Ending

The final NaPoWriMo challenge for 2020 is to write a poem about something that always returns.


25 thoughts on “Morrie’s Ball: NaPoWriMo–last day for 2020!

  1. joanmyles

    Such a delightful tale, thank you dear Judy, and thank your darling little canine companion for his antics, blessings to you both! *willows swaying in night breeze**pawprints in sand**dancing clouds*

    Liked by 1 person


    Thanks for your “Thursday with Morrie” only two days late and somewhere about the middle of the post it had me worried. Tami is almost four and still decides when it is time to play ball, but she has her own rules, when she brings it back she wants me to take it away from her. If I do not cooperate, then I find it at my feet. I finally got to see that plumeria and YES it is a TREE. I never have allowed mine to get over six feet.
    By the way a regular tennis ball proved to be a little large for Tami’s mouth but I found some that are about 2/3rds the size which fit better. Funny how, like a kid, they will make up their own rules of the game they want to play.


      1. SAM VOELKER

        Tami has a small mouth with an under bite and a very long tongue, which you most keep away from your face, when hugging her~!

        So did naming Morrie have anything to do with Mitch Albom~? I like most of his books, except maybe two. She knew that today was Maria’s day and had disappeared this morning, then I saw her sitting in the middle of the parking area, waiting for them. I always strip my bed on Thursdays and put the bed cloths in to wash, and then she knows they are coming. I find it fascinating that they can put an action together and come to a conclusion. If I take a shower during the day, she goes and sits by the door of my car knowing that I am going somewhere. The little poop~! You probably do not see my Facebook which a couple of days back I commented that her favorite word is “taka”, like taka walk, taka break, taka ride, taka leak, etc. With just “taka” she starts running around in circles and jumping up and down.


  3. Ms D.

    Oh my gosh! My heart was in my throat until the happy ending! As the mom of three terriers, two over the rainbow bridge now and my constant companion Dev as game for a ball as Morrie I so understand!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. slmret

    Oh, my gosh, Judy — I was almost in tears as I read this, thinking of Morrie aging during this stressful time. Thank goodness there was a happy ending and Morrie was as enthusiastic as ever!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dale T. Wilson

    My anxiety grew,… and grew. Morrie has earned ‘virtual companionship and entertainer extraordinaire’ for so many of us that I had reached for the tissue box, before the last stanza. Whew. Looking forward to more “sweet canine love stories.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dianne Morrow

    Judy, my heart was in my throat and tears stinging my eyes—what a relief to know what really happened. Also loved the Thursday with Morrie title!


  7. Marilyn Armstrong

    Reblogged this on Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth and commented:
    I see Morrie and I see Gibbs and Bonnie. Bonnie was just 9 weeks old when we got her. Gibbs was much older, but I thought he’d be around for awhile. Dogs get old far too soon. I live in dread of the next loss, but Bonnie isn’t worried. She’s happy every day. The joy of being a dog is to never have to worry about the future. All that matters is now and the joy of the ball and the hand that throws it.


  8. Marilyn Armstrong

    I love my dogs, but it is always a worry as they age. Bonnie is not in great shape, but she thinks she’s fine. A wee bit demented in a pleasant sort of way and even though she weighs like two cinderblocks, she bounces around like a dog half her age. Unless something interferes, these are long-lived dogs.

    Liked by 1 person


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