The low November sun cast shards of gold,
old and burnished, around the Narcissistic oak,
as the winds pushed that brawny
exhibitionist body into clattering sway,
not its standing ovation of summer-leaf
self-applause. Yesterday, the
Golden leaf closest to me fell.
She was the one toward whom I would reach,
against whom I would rest, I would rub
for mutual security and solace
whether the winds hummed or thrashed.
She was the one who pawed me toward the sun,
as my hand never left her side until
she felt the nudge and fell away.
I’m alone now, waving for the wind
to rip me away from this empty place
at the tip of this twig,
attached to this branch,
shouldered to this oak,
this raggedy bark metaphor for
life as some grand repeating circle
of birth and death. But for us,
the leaves, the joes and mollies,
it is not a circle. It’s not
some spinning wheel. It is
a finite line from root to shoot.
There is birth. There is death.
And whatever happens along the
in-between is nothing more than
a matter of opinion.
On Saturday, November 16, our Mollie got old and sick all at once and we had to let her go. I’m inconsolable. Still hurting a week after my shoulder surgery, but this is the real pain in my life. She was the anchor to my existence. My first thing in the morning, my last thing at night and more often than not my source of inspiration just to be and guide to express myself. Maybe she was the muse I never thought I’d have or need. But she was my best friend and, in the way of a man who only recently made the acquaintance of his feelings, the love of my life.
Recently, American sportswriter Peter King had to put down his beloved golden retriever Bailey. He wrote a column about it from which I managed to pinch this thought through my tears. King wrote: “The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.”
After almost thirteen years living with, being exasperated by, laughing at, caring for and loving (and being loved by) Mollie, I can barely describe how empty my life now feels.
Maybe this poem is a poor start.