Monday, October 11, 2010

Percy Six and Seven

Percy Six

You’re like a little wild thing
That was never sent to school.
Sit, I say, and you jump up.
Come, I say, and you go galloping down the sand
To the nearest dead fish
With which you perfume your sweet neck.
It is summer.
How many summers does a little dog have?

Run, run Percy.
This is our school.

Percy Seven

And now Percy is getting brazen.
Let’s down the beach, baby, he says.
Let’s shake it with a little barking.
Let’s find dead things, and explore them,
By mouth, if possible.

Or maybe the leavings of Paul’s horse (after which
Forgive me for mentioning it, he is fond of kissing)

Ah, this is the thing that comes to each of us.
The child grows up.
And, according to our own ideas, is practically asunder.

I understand it.
I struggle to celebrate.
I say, with a stiff upper lip familiar to many:

Just look at that curlyhaired child now, he’s his own man.

I have loved many dogs, though I keep none in the home now. There are many reasons for this; one of which is that I love wildness and the domestic dog doesn’t rise to the amount of independence that causes my heart to burst with the same level of joy as when I see coyote and wolf There is something so tamed about dogs, although as Mary says, their independent streak shows up and we discover that we are only fooled to think they aren't their own dog.

The best example of this was a dog I called Thunder dog. I never knew his real name. He was a brown husky with soul-stealing blue eyes and followed me up a dry canyon in California as we passed his cabin. While we hiked he ran to all sides of us, and always came back to check in with us before going on. After several miles I worried about him being so far from home, with dark coming on, and I did everything I could to get him to leave us and go home. II eventually threw rocks at him. He just ran, ahead, and looked over his shoulder saying it seemed, "I know you long to run these wild mountain tops as do I. Come, let us not fool one another. Join me and I will be yours forever."

Night came and we were short of enough food and water for the added dog. It was also very cold. So Thunder dog shared our meager supper and curled up in our small tent. By midnight he was through with this closeness and asked to go outside, where he stayed until day break.

As the sun came up over the peaks, a fierce wind came on, nearly blowing us and our tent off the saddle where we had camped. It was the Santa Ana winds and by midmorning we could smell the smoke of wild fires. We learned that a forest fire was on its way to us so we cut short our hike and decided to descend the mountain and return Thunder dog to where we had first met. Thunder seemed to know our intent, and allowed me to leash him and guide him home. It turns out that he had obedience training and would do everything I asked him, now that we were off the trail and headed home.

We found his cabin and left him with neighbors, for his owner was not home. My heart felt such an ache as I walked away, for I had been tempted to keep the dog with me so my heart could always see such haphazard wild glory. Later that week we learned that the fire had come through the canyon where Thunder's cabin had been and had blazed all habitations.

I never knew what his fate had been that day, but I knew mine. It was to live without such a companion that was forever mine, and never was.

Do you struggle to celebrate so that you can conform to expectations of others?

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