Click on photos to enlarge.
Click on photos to enlarge.
An Avid Fetcher’s Soliloquy
Whose house this is I so well know.
She’s swinging in the hammock, though.
I think she came to catch some zzzs,
not for a Scottie on her knees,
but still, I charm her with my eyes
and my bigger brother vies
to win attention and her pats,
but I want something else, and that’s
a tennis ball thrown just for me.
I drop it now beside her knee.
She reaches out and throws it up
and I’m a very happy pup
as I race to go retrieve it
knowing that she will receive it
once again, and then again,
for that’s the way it’s always been
ever since I can remember,
mom compliant, me so limber
that sometimes I catch that round
ball before it hits the ground.
and though her left arm’s occupied
with scratching Diego’s tough hide,
her right arm is my provenance,
and so I bark and jump and dance,
encouraging throw after throw
so I can follow where they go,
and when at night I go to sleep,
upon my dog bed, burrowing deep,
I pray the God of dogs protects
mom’s throwing arm from all defects.
For dVerse poets, the prompt is to write a soliloquy.
I wrote this one on International Dogs Day, Aug 16, 2021.
Thanks to Victoria Slotto for pointing that out to me.
In His Dreams
I listen to his sad refrain.
Won’t I please throw the ball again?
The fright that I will not comply
is reflected in each eye.
They vilify and then they plead.
Throwing’s a must, not just a need.
As I accept the ball and throw,
long and hard and sure and low,
his retrieval skills are so efficient,
a dozen lofts are not sufficient.
He gives a snort, is here, then there
to catch the ball while in the air.
This small tangled ball of hair
curled up on the bottom stair—
I know he’s dreaming when I hear his yip,
see running legs, a sudden dip
of jaw that signals his success.
He’s caught the ball I threw, I guess.
His need to fetch so strong and deep,
I’m sure he does it in his sleep.
I wonder if I fully stand
within his dream, or is a hand
the only evidence at all
of one who throws the yearned-for 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.
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.
The final NaPoWriMo challenge for 2020 is to write a poem about something that always returns.
The more I slow down, the more rapidly the days seem to slip by. This oxymoron dominates my thoughts in those wee hours when I am trying valiantly to sleep. The awareness of how quickly my life is advancing into its third trimester plugs up my throat until I find it hard to breathe. I fumble for the door key, open the sliding glass doors and slip out onto the patio to gulp the cool night air.
The dogs circle round, Morrie drops hopefully in front of me, a ubiquitous green tennis ball in his jaws. There must be one of those balls hidden behind every plant in my garden. Just four months ago, I had bought five tubes of them at the sports goods store—each containing three balls. I was about to set out on my yearly two-month trip to the ocean. I wanted the house sitters to be well-supplied in everything, and the balls were on sale, so I had purchased what I thought would be a lifetime supply. But those balls seem to have vanished as quickly as the two months since my return home had. Two days ago, I had purchased two more tubes of balls. They sit unopened in the doggie supply vault that stores the large bin of dry dog food, a small fridge that holds the wet food I add to the dry food twice daily when I feed them, and other doggy paraphernalia: leashes, collars, medicines, rawhide bones, doggy biscuits.
And so this is a ball he must have rapidly reclaimed from some garden shadow when he heard my key in the lock to the terrace. I bend and reclaim the ball, then throw it over the pool down into the lower garden. Almost as soon as my arm falls to a vertical position, he is back with it again––everything in life seeming to speed up as I slow down.
Now, hours of insomnia and fewer hours of sleep later, I hear him whining on the other side of the security bars outside the open bedroom sliders. He would now have his morning come on more rapidly as I lie, computer on chest, writing my morning blog. I have slowed the world down for long enough. I find an appropriate ending and swing my feet to the floor, in search of Crocs. Time to get in line with the faster world’s schedule, at least for the time it takes to feed the dogs and cats.
Click on any photo to enlarge all.
The prompt today is rapid.
I received this challenge from my friend Alex Solomon. “Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.” Today I challenge Ann Garcia.