Sunday, February 28, 2010

I read one author who insisted: writers employ techniques like segues metaphors transitions showing not telling or using past versus present blah blah blah. I polish nothing but my thoughts and let the words tumble out like stones rough enough to hurt.

Lily and I stepped into the last day of February where the air smelled like winter ending. The temperatures pull moisture from frozen ground as it lets go of tree roots and a toppled birdbath glued to the yard since December. Snow evaporates into a fog hovering before us and we pass through it. One figure tall with a scarf and Lily who is long and weaving through the mist. We see a man with a mutt colored like a Doberman but shaped like a lab. Another man has his two dogs that are medium and small. Lily likes them all. Good girl.

Lily and I alone again making our tracks through remnants of snow and leaves. Footprints in the mud soon pool with water. Back on the road a girl wearing a billowing skirt over jeans and sneakers sees us and Lily wants to meet her. Lily keeps looking back so I wait for the girl to catch us.

Awwww! Hello buddy, she says. Her hands brush at Lil’s ears. Home again I switch to hiking boots and call Bandit and Hershey. Outside guys! We move through the woods and stomp along a familiar path over stones up hills across clearings around the trees to the edge. Many stony peeks divide the forest as I look from one hilltop across a valley still streaked with unmelted snow to see another rise. Through brambles and snapped and fallen limbs I scramble as brush snags my clothes and shoelaces. Turning toward a dash of sun pushing almost but not quite through the clouds I find the cast iron overturned bathtub stamped 1942. Somewhere someone sunk into warm water as World War II interrupted the world…

I dream of broken glass. It’s on the floor in random patches sparkling and juggling light like a warning: don’t step here don’t step here. The rest of the space around me in the dream is dark but unlike the night. It’s dark like heavy black curtains enclosing me. I feel confused about where I am and what’s outside the curtain. Why am I closed in here anyway let me out.

Home is hard for me. I am a bystander witnessing someone else’s life. I know that since Lily arrived I have not been Ok and I am bothering Jerry who deserves a much happier place to live with his daughter what’s wrong with me?

An old foundation waits for me forgotten in the woods. The last log in the wood-burning stove is long gone and the rafters roof and windows have collapsed. Stacked stones thick with green and silver lichen outline what was once a cabin in the woods. No roads driveway or even a path approach the foundation where it sits atop ledge. In all directions the ground slopes gently downward and away from this little dwelling where one two three people or more must have sat nights with a pipe and whiskey. Maybe it was for women who needed a place quieter than home. Maybe children played house here. Who slept on the old bed frame rusting where hands dropped it on its way past what must have been the front door. Who last poured hot coffee from the little pot where it sits dented in profile on the ground, snow clinging to the spout.

I feel good here and like the boulders and stones leading to the foundation. What people sweat and crushed their knuckles moving stones to the little house in the woods? Lily and Hershey sniff at little pockets in the ground large enough for their snout to rummage and Bandit explores the edges of what may have been a yard. I’ll come back here. A quick hike from my backdoor past a vernal pool now puddled with ice and up a rocky rise until the boxy stacks of stones are in sight.

All the dogs arrive home and drop themselves on the floor except Ozzy the pug who did not want to go with us today. He stood on the patio looking in at the living room through the backdoor until he got his wish.

Sitting here looking at Lily’s heap of bony body parts and happy eyes, I worry about my broken glass dream. Broken glass is everywhere for me in the past few days both real and imaginary. One feeds the other. At the bar I reach for a wine glass, stem up. Turning it over while trying to peer through it’s side to check for lipstick stains I lose my grip. The glass spins and looks beautiful and takes forever to finally crash into the floor. Shards.

Walking down the front steps Jerry stops. Bending down he reaches for broken glass that once held a candle.

I guess it got too cold, he said.

The night before that I had cleaned and swept and mopped and before I dropped the mat back behind the bar I reached to clean a shot glass. Wet, I pull it from the water and drop it on the floor.

I don’t worry about Lily when I am at the bar. Everything rushes to the back of my mind while I deal with immediate things: Bud light, an order of pulled pork, chicken, a 2 ball missing from the pool table no paper in the girls room who took my Grey Goose and soda? God, that table is a MESS.

Lily is still not absorbing her food that comes out in a rush in splotches in the backyard or across the basement floor. She does not seem uncomfortable and I think she knows we are her family now. In the woods she stays close and as we returned home today I caught up with Bandit who sniffed urgently. His hair stood in a ridge along his spine. Uh oh. Then the three dogs took off, one lithe chocolate streak, a bumbling too heavy mutt, and Lily who lopes and seems to bounce with each easy step. They ran through a field that connects me to the neighbor who gave Lily to me. In the field was one of the many little dogs from the home where Lily once lived. A voice calling the dog. Will Lily go with the familiar little burst of fur snout eyes and ears? Will she follow the voice that for at least 18 months filled her environment?

Lily! I call her and she looks back at me, then comes home. Wow. Good girl Lily.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Shadows in the corner move and blink. I see Lily’s eyes as she stares up at me from her flattened position on the tile floor. Hershey has sunk her chocolate ass onto Lily’s pillow, and Bandit tries to drop himself on the tattered cushion that I threw back together in haste at 2:30 in the morning when I got home from the bar.

They had torn its synthetic green foamy guts out and their doggy bed was now a withered gaping mess when I grabbed it and shoved stuffing back through the rips and tears, jammed it against the coffee table, then looked around at all the dogs looking at me. No joy here. No tails whipping back and forth or coil-bound legs ready to thrust a dog into my face.

Fine, sit on the worn out ruined remnants Bandit. Fine.

Lily lost her bed to Hershey, but I have to let the two of them arrange who goes where. I guess …

We all ran in the woods. I squeezed Ozzy into a little red sweater so I could find him more quickly. With short puggy legs and coloring that blends him perfectly with a snowy forest floor I often think he’s gone.

Lily and I went for a jog and she stopped a few times looking at the road, at me, around. What’s wrong Lily?

With the weekend will come more time to think about Lily.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Laughing unexpectedly is like finding a gift jammed in the toe of last year's Christmas stocking. There it is, a little lump at the end that had gone unnoticed. What is it?
Lily can cause a pretty good laugh if you send her out in the rain and run around and drench her, yourself, your running pants, then try to dry her off with a towel and she squirms and you’re not sure which end you’re at. It’s still nothing like Christmas Eve here though; we still don’t know what’s wrong. Her sloping snout and imploring almond eyes are wedged in my mind at once like a rock in my shoe and a pearl; right here her image sits in the rocking chair, rhythmic, creaking, irritating and a comfort. I know where she is but I worry.

A new thought: maybe maybe maybe it’s behavioral and her nerves are on fire for some reason and she has overactive ass syndrome.
With the snow melted I see all the spots where Lily “went” and it looks like a paintball fight.
Grabbing the phone I dial and Jerry answers and I ask, are you home yet I want to know that the dogs are OK.
I’m a few minutes away.
CALL ME when you get there. Please?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Words are songs poems questions answers revelations and sometimes they are empty unfinished sentences leading nowhere. Sometimes words are just a jumbled game of Scrabble and you have to get up get away get a drink get a different game to play.

Lily is four little letters. Her poem is a dog scrambling to hold her place in the world, but it keeps tipping and spilling her off the cushions. She has a song she sings and my friend Mary heard it when she visited the dog pound after Lily came in. No dog should make those noises, Mary said. German shepherds just don’t howl like that, she said.

I talked to animal control and she told me: that dog, diarrhea was everywhere the next morning. Answers and revelations? We have answered what her ailments are not. Not the pancreas, worms, parasites, inflamed bowel. I feel like I am halfway through the box and no prize yet.

Jerry said, just call another vet. Get another opinion. Shouldn’t I finish her second round of parasite treatments, I think? Well, I guess I’ll call our vet. I realize I have had that conversation a few times recently and I wonder why I procrastinate.

On the news I overhear: a truck has spilled its load of Clementines. The highway is shut down and somehow it’s funny to me. I picture a zillion little orange orbs rolling bouncing along blacktop and grass until they rest. A great big bocce game.

Snow. The forecast is saying snow snow SNOW, which means hurry up and get your milk and bread.

Bandit has been a pain in the ass lately, wrinkling his lip and a little growl at Lily. I suddenly remember Meghan in third grade who had a pretty herring bone braid in her hair. I told her, that looks really cute. I was a kid I was trying to act social I was trying not to be shy I was trying to say something that might earn me the first words leading to friendship. Meghan said, I hate the word cute.

Later that year we were standing in rows in the gymnasium singing for the chorus. It was hot and we heard a hollow, hard thud just like someone’s head hitting the floor. Meghan had passed out and collapsed. Her cute little head hit the floor.

In the morning it looks like Lily and I will need our snowshoes. I pulled two ticks off the dogs yesterday and tonight.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rain in February is cold dreary sad and unwelcoming like a punishment.

Lily and I go out and up and our feet push slush around where it clings in a frigid layer to mud below. My feet sink and I watch Lily as she prances across the yard leaving footprints like polka dots. Back inside I sit and look at all my familiar pens checkbook cell phone newspaper dictionary and can’t shake the gloom. Something decaying scurried through my system like a cat and rubbed against everything. The more it rubs and purrs the less my things are mine.

Who put all this junk here anyway?

Is Lily any bigger do you think? Well, she won’t gain weight that you can see overnight, Jerry said. It will take time. Am I patient? Is patience something you realize you had once an ordeal ends? Or can you begin with promises to never tap your foot or become loud and demanding from the back of the line? Lily, what is WRONG with you? Do I have to be patient everyday, or can I blow my horn and rant until the windshield is fogged?

Dogs litter the house like spilled laundry. Hershey is drooped over the side of our bed with her head dangling toward the floor. Ozzy blends in with blankets and snorts while below him Bandit has wedged his bulk against the coffee table. Lily seems to have fallen from some height and landed splat on the floor. Legs like collapsible poles are attached to her ribs neck head hips. She looks vacuum sealed so I feed her.

Lately she eats more deliberately like it’s a factory job stamping something that rolls by on a conveyor belt. What does that mean?

Standing in the kitchen and leaning against the rough wooden trim I read instruction to give her Panacur and ask Jerry, when is the 27th? I count on my fingers and decide that in less than a week I give Lily the second half of this treatment. Then what?

I am forgetting things I am like tea sloshing over the rim I forgot to bring home the laptop from work. Crap.

One thing I did remember to do was contact a man who raises German shepherds. Could he help? He answered my mail telling me to call him and I will.

Lily sits by the stairs looking up and waits for a cat to fall into her mouth. She knows they’re up there staring back from their own corner of darkness but she sees them.

What should I do about Lily? Is she happy comfortable at ease in this house? Are any of us? Jerry asks me, do you know what I don’t like about you working at the bar Thursday and Friday night? Pointing at Lily who is waiting by the door to go out, he says: That.

Fine, I think. When I go to bed I am taking all the cats’ arms and legs and locking them up somewhere so they will NOT stand by the bedroom door to meow meow meow.

Looking down at my feet now I remember when Lily snuck behind me on the couch and draped her head over my shoulder. I see her rest he head on things all the time. I think her head is too heavy for her neck. Her poor, skinny neck. Does she know she’s sick?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sometimes I have to wait for the words, then they come.

Lily stares up at me from a puddle of fur and bones on the floor. Her eyes move where I move.

I fell asleep on Jerry as if I just landed on him. I sit up and reach for the computer; Jerry asks, why won’t you just come to bed with me and sleep? Nice, restful sleep.

Why? Wiggling my fingers between us I say, it’s the little parade of words…I have to get it down I have to put them someplace, give them ink and shape.

They come from Lily, mostly, until I hear: Get OUT of there Ozzy. We’re going to have one extremely fat pug and skinny cats, Jerry said.

I guess Ozzy snuck over to the food bowls.

The leash, a metallic click and creek as I open the door and Lily and I are out and up the steps and my feet press into mud. I smell the softening soil letting go of moisture that spent weeks trapped in spikes and crystals that crunch in the winter. Timid snowflakes flutter around in the floodlight then melt on the ground.

I breath and the air makes me think of moss tree bark trillium and footprints in the woods. The same smell brought me an answer earlier today when they asked me at work, what do you look for as the first sign of spring?

My answer: the moist aroma of winter melting under a late February sun.

Late Monday night Lily and I dragged our feet through ground like pudding and she needed to go out over and over again.

In the house again she finds a place to rest and I listed to her succession of bones collide with the floor. She drops onto a little braided rug -- knees hips and side then elbows and shoulder and head. We bought her a fluffier doggy cushion for the basement, but upstairs she makes space there.

I am going to finish her second round of liquid treatment for parasites, then consider changing vets. They want to test her DNA after this if the medicine does not work. I don’t like this groping for an answer.

For the first time in four years I went to work Monday without exhaustion or anxiety. I woke late, ran with the dogs and drove in after 12:30 without rushing and racing the clock or yelling at other drivers at stoplights traffic jams cars cars cars near the highway. I did not fall asleep at my desk once today, which is a huge change for me. I have been falling asleep at my desk since sixth grade all day long over and over again.

Anxiety in the last week had been pressing its thumb against my neck making a small knot that ached, then ached more, then ached at times with a sharp jab. I did not realize that this companion that had pitched its little lousy tent in my neck had packed up and left until I drove home from work after 5. Lily.

Before bed I scratch Jerry’s back and he says, you haven’t done this in a long time.

Lily, I say. Everything is different since Lily.

That dog has ruined my life, he says.

Jerry? Do you regret that she is here, I ask?

It wasn’t my decision, he tells me.

OK, do you wish that she wasn’t here? He says, sometimes. Look what it did to you, he tells me.


I am an unhappy person and with just a little more stress I snapped. It's the difference between resting a foot over a lightbulb, and actually stepping on it. Sadly, because we both know it is completely true, he agrees. I don’t process stress. It just passes through without dissipating and drags everything with it. My sense of humor was first to rip away from my body. Without it there is no chance at happiness in even fleeting bits and pieces. Without a sense of humor you may lose appreciation for details kindness and the value of other people, or you lose the interest to look.

I stand in the bedroom and hear Jerry’s words and am regretful but I look at Lily who looks at me and know of no other decision I could have made. I understand why Jerry is exasperated despite the many times he tells me Lily is a great dog. He wants me back but I can’t pull away from the crumbling edge where I peer into a dark bottomless nothing hoping for answers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

From my police scanner at work I hear the dispatcher say: the store manager called; apparently kids behind the store are striking some kind of meter with a metal pole…
Laughing, I momentarily replace the recent flurry of images running through my head with thoughts of a bunch of kids still hunched under their book bags standing around as one whacks at a pole absentmindedly. Soon the police will roll up to hustle them away.
Last night I saw Steve from the old bar that closed. I miss it like a person who walked away and disappeared like a friend’s father in one of his dreams. One minute you are talking, and then the figure drifts off. No more words.
Jogging today with Lily as the sun melted patches of snow and soaked warmth into my black fleece, we worked on Hold it! which she does really well. Stopping, her ears perk and she waits.
Are you going to call out vet, Jerry asks?
What will I say to him? Should we wait to see what happens after the second round of the parasite treatment?
Just tell him what’s happening, he says to me.
I am on the fence about this and the fence tapers off into the distance without end.
Three snouts converging under the doorknob as I stand behind Bandit and Hershey and Lily who all wait for my hand to turn the handle and free them. They swerve around the corner and run up behind the house over rocks crashing snapping through branches churning up leave snow leaves. Wait!
I hurry around the corner to find Lily and Hershey both clamped down on a huge fallen limb and they snarl and pull and both want to claim it. With the force of two dogs hauling a projectile they rumble toward me as I jump to avoid a jab in the thigh from a ragged branch.
Ozzy trundles along sniffing yesterdays’ footprints and Bandit has a head start over the rise.
I miss the people from my dreams and remember the night’s blurring images as my mind and I wander through the woods. I was happy there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Awake this morning and into my hiking shoes the snow drags at my feet. Lily runs. The hills are harder and sticks become lost in the few inches that fell Tuesday, but Lily’s black snout covered in snow is like a frosted cupcake with a stick in its mouth.
She and Bandit and Hershey stayed together downstairs again today while Ozzy had the couch to himself. I sit at work calling Jerry every two minutes.
Do you think they’re OK?
I don’t care if he answers or I am shuffled to voicemail. I need to ask to ask to ask.
A voicemail: PLEASE call when you get home and tell me how they are I am worried I can’t stop thinking about them I hope they’re OK.
He calls me back and I ask, well?
I’m not home yet, he said.
Well, I am worried.
They’re fine, he said.
He is home with the dogs for the next couple nights.
Thank you Jerry.
So many things I could not do without his help, but he owes me for his haircut last night…

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Being a grownup is awful.
My phone startles me at work and I grab it to hear the vet’s voice.
Kendra? How is Lily?
No better.
She is still going to the bathroom frequently?
How much do you feed her?
Whenever she acts like she is starving.
How much?
As often as I can just to get something in her.
We want to do it only two or three times a day. That is all. I know it’s hard when she is hungry.
What about her weight? This dog just can’t afford to lose anything, I say.
Don’t worry about it, he said. I guess we wait.
I thought, he doesn’t see her, nose poised above the bowl mouth open on its way down and slamming into her dish. By the third or fourth time I drop a little food in her bowl at night she finally slows down long enough to dip her head, sniff for a mouthful she likes, lift her head and chew it.
The vet is saying, only feed her the food I gave you. NOTHING else.
Should I tell him I just ran out. I ask him, what if I run out? Can I come buy more?
We’ll have to order it for you, he said.
I wish I was a kid that broke something I should not have been touching. Mom told me to leave it alone I’ll drop it keep my hands to myself. She pushes her cart into another isle and my hands are all over glass ceramics mirrors light bulbs, anything that will break with a spectacular spray of pieces, like that pint glass that jumped off my tray at the bar last week. That stuff shatters and instantly becomes invisible.
I wish I was a kid that dropped something and with too few years of life and experience, I had not yet amassed a conscience. Yup, I dropped it and I want to run like hell. But instead I am an adult and my conscience will never be as clear as that kid rounding the corner, putting distance between himself and those incriminating broken things.
Lily is broken, but I stand here with all the weight of an adult and know that I have to somehow get all these pieces to work.
The little assembly line between her mouth and the other end only once produced something solid.
That poor dog’s ass must be raw and hurt, Jerry has said a couple times.
My mother weeks ago asked if I could put ointment “or something” on it. I asked, or something? Mom, how would I even do that?
We’re outside stomping around in yesterdays’ snow that has deflated since it fell. All the magic seeped out. Stepped on and pressed down it is no longer that wonderful stuff but a once-pristine linen quilt on grandma’s bed where we have been jumping jumping jumping for hours.
Without the allure of things outside of me I am susceptible again to the things in here. My imagination brings back the teeth and claws that are not rocks trailing shadows in the woods, but predators creeping. Outside with Lily I remember what the trainer had said: if she should perk her ears, stop, and want to retreat, you better get out of the woods fast. Tonight Lily’s ears turn toward the stones and trees and snow and darkness and collect little bits of sound. Does she hear innocent, fuzzy little things or something else?
Jerry is going to bed and I am draped across the covers with my head on Bandit. Jerry asks me to scratch his back so I stick out one finger and drag it up and down. Come on! Use two hands!
I clap for him.
I hate it when you do that, he says.
Want my list, I ask?
I’d need a wheelbarrow, he said.
Ha ha. Anyway, Lily is here and quiet and curled on a rug. Ozzie snores and the house is asleep for the night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My head filled up with Lily Lily Lily and a bunch of other stuff fell out. I look and find common sense flopping around in a puddle by my feet and barely recognize it. Practicality is there too, sitting in a diaper and slapping flattened palms against the water. Kicking around I hope that Lily has also displaced fear and distress, but those are firmly lodged like slivers small and sharp. They require something large and sharp to get them out.

Now I am waiting. Waiting for Wednesday when my real vet returns waiting for Lily to eat and actually hold it waiting for a day when I can take all the dogs on a leash and walk without fear that I’ll fly behind them like a tattered kite as soon as they lunge for a squirrel.
It snows and Lily lopes through thick drifts where her feet disappear and she glides. It’s a thick snow that surprises everyone including school bus drivers who return children to nervous parents in the afternoon as plows pass them. A few people blamed the superintendent of schools. They did put their child on that bus, didn’t they? But I understand the need to be angry.
If you step outside steaming after an argument and a guy in a suit offers you either a punching bag or an picture frame filled with some institutional color that prison officials have deemed soothing, which will you hit first?
I know Jerry wants to hit something. Probably a picture of me. Tonight: I hear him say, what’s the matter Lily? Need to go out? Is your stomach gurgling?
OK, OK! I say. I get it.
Why do you have to get like that, he asks?
Like what? I know you’re saying that so I hear you and get up.
I was talking to the dog, he said.
I say, no….

Lily and I are out in the snow again and she curves in half like a horseshoe and leaves a pile.
I am not fair to Jerry I am uptight and frustrated and keep thinking she has to hold her food longer and gain at least a pound. How much is a pound anyway? And how long could you hold it in an outstretched hand before it grows heavy?
Jerry mutters something to Lily.
WHAT, I ask? No answer so I look around the corner to find Jerry with his shirt pulled up to hide his face.

You’ll call our vet tomorrow, he had asked me?
Yes, and I want to call the other vet too, maybe get them to print all the medicines and things we have tried.
Don’t call them, Jerry said. Just go to our vet. You don’t have to tell the other guys anything. I think about it. I keep quiet.
OK, Jerry said. Do what you want…
I want to be sure I don’t miss anything.

Lily is such a good dog. I take her outside again and she makes a little pile like a wrong colored snowman that stands, then topples over.
Where will this writing take me? I never know what thoughts will come. My editor told me it’s like we put ourselves aside but an omniscient voice hovers over our shoulder. In some ways our writing might be more real or truer to the person, he tells me. I nod I grip my teacup look at the clock picture papers on his desk. I agree.
Everything we do is filtered for public approval. Our conversations and responses our actions and clothes. Everything. But writing isn’t about holding a mirror up to an ordinary day. It’s about holding up a crystal ball and seeing into it through it about it and when you put down the pearly orb, you understand.
Well, what the hell is wrong with Lily? I hold my hands in front of me and spread my fingers. Touching the tips of my thumbs I throw this little net that is my hands around Lily’s waist and wish for more substance.
Jerry went to bed I think he hates me.
I crawl over to tell him goodnight and he tells me, you weren’t very nice to me tonight.
Stress, I ask?
I am scrunched up next to him, then I feel Bandit rest his head on my hip. Looking over his droopy ears I see Ozzy sitting on the floor, puggy as ever.
I am sorry Jerry. Although the stress has dropped since Lily came to live with us, the awful responses that are snippy and short tempered have become familiar like furniture that was new 20 years ago and has never changed place.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A glance outside the window and I watch the sky fall flake by flake. Inside are rose shadows thrown across the tabletop by an outside light. Thank you Jerry for my roses and for caring enough to do something so nice when I am so exasperating. Lily and I go out and with our footprints we stamp a path across the back yard.

I wanted to call my regular vet today and start bringing her there. Go in with a fresh, positive attitude, my father tells me on the phone. That mood was at first real, then fabricated, then just too hard to hold up. It had turned into a boulder and made my shoulders ache. So I dropped it. Let all the chipper happy people run around with positive attitudes like little pink perky slippers. Oh so cute.

On the phone with my vet a secretary tells me, the doctor will be away until Wednesday.

Oh, OK, never mind, I say.

Is it urgent?

Well, I admit to her that I had been hoping for sooner than Wednesday.

I think, NOW.

She tells me, visiting Dr (who?) is here tomorrow and (who ?) is here today…

Well, thank you anyway.

I woke up to Lily’s barking at 5 am. Half asleep and standing on the spiral stairs with her I sooth and pet and sooth and grope for the door handle. I have dwindling minutes left to sleep. Eyes closed and in bed again I hear the cats outside. They stare in from the window a few feet away I hate them.

I will take Lily in for another vet’s assessment. Now I am worried.


We watch Lily and she has been very calm. I had fed her how long ago, two hours? Jerry answers: Wow, she’s cured.

I am too tired to write. No words are in the cookie jar today. Just crumbs. Please please please let me sleep tonight. Maybe the morning will be snow and another chance to leave impressions step by step everywhere I go.



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writing needs darkness for its secrets and admission to truths that never stop bleeding. But who wants to stare at that broken junk in beautiful daylight?

Lily is sick and we don’t have any answers and at work Friday I said at least five times that finally, I am starting to worry. What else can we do try test sample or weigh? I fear the vet is beginning to guess.

Jerry asks, what’s Monday’s recheck appointment? What’s that?

I don’t know, they want a follow up I guess to see if her last diet change and pills worked, I said.

They’re milking you for money. You don’t need this visit.

I tell him, I don’t think it’s intentional but I guess we don’t have anything to check. Nothing has changed and she craps and has gained nothing and that’s it.

I look at Jerry on the couch who has his fists in the air, pumping up and down like he is draining udders.

Fears don’t want shadows that ebb and return or flow away and rush back. They like to loom. They like the stage to themselves. They like the night. Daylight finds holes where secrets hide and mistakes them as stark and alone, easily batted away with a stick or crushed crushed crushed with a stone but the night frees them. They hurry to permeate the air and prompt little subconscious thoughts that I catch like a cold when I sleep.

I wake and look at blackness and yawn; a dream hurries behind a corner as if I caught it naked. My heart rushes along. I dream: Lily stands on a rock in the woods and I approach. She drops her head to the ground then follows a scent and she is gone. I run to her place and find her paw prints.

Morning wakes me again and the dreams are gone. The dogs all are home.

Walking I see a neighbor who asks, is she going to die? I am wondering.

Jerry comes up from the basement, did you know there’s a big fat mud pie on the floor down there, he asks?

Yup. I know.

At the vet’s office I pick up more pills and I ask about Monday’s recheck visit.

There isn’t any change since the last time she was here, I tell the girl at the desk. Maybe we don’t need this visit and can ask the doctor to cancel?

Well, the best thing to do is call us Monday morning. OK, I say.

We’re home the message light blinks Jerry hits it and our appointment has been cancelled, says the receptionist’s voice. Smiling with fingers pointing to himself Jerry says, I’m a genius.

We’re home and Lily just empties like a cracked oil pan.

Does anyone know what to do? A morning of jogging to the forest trails along the water. We listen to Lake Zoar’s frozen surface crack and shift sending deep vibrations and eerie sounds rippling from below like huge aluminum sheets quivering. She chases a stick and runs along then squats and chews. Pieces of bark and chipped wood cover her lips.

Lily has tapped into this really deep well of anxiety that I have kept well dusted well hidden well within sight. I never get past anything or let things go or get over it or any other appeasing thing you want to throw at it. I just accumulate my distress frustration disappointments and a whole ton of other things I can’t cope with and slip things beneath its lid year after year. I realize too late its not a trunk with a sturdy lock but a pressure cooker working slowly and waiting. One day I’ll approach innocently with a damaged little piece of my life dripping in my hands and as I reach for the lid it’s going to shoot off into my face.

I know I have that much coming.

Whenever I begin to worry it’s as if all the duress amassed in that well offers a little bit of its force to make sure my distress isn’t just about Lily, but about everything . She has given me a push and now I have the weight of every damn worry chasing me.

We are back home and I feed her again I feed her all the time I always put food in her bowl she’s starving. With her head flopped to the side she stretches on the floor a few minutes later, then sleeps. Gurgling sounds come from her belly and we look and see a rippling motion lifting the fur gently in a pattern like a bubble beneath the surface.

What if it is something like a parasite, Jerry asks? What if it’s the size of a snake?


Friday, February 12, 2010

With a plastic grocery bag wrapped around the edge of a dustpan I reach down and shovel up a liquid pile Lily left on the basement floor. Her diarrhea is a dripping mess slopped across the tiles.
Her blood results are back and it’s not her pancreas, the vet tells me. They are the first words I heard today and not good news. If her pancreas was deficient we could treat it but instead we remain wedged in a darkness that welcomes us back to a place perfectly fitted our body.
What next? Lily has created a widening fissure where my anxiety and I stand on one side and wave goodbye to the calm, even-tempered normal stuff on the other side. Goodbye.

The vet asks, I need a fresh stool sample, not an old one where the bacteria may have changed. Minutes later I am outside in the snow with an old coffee scoop dipped into a pile slippery like egg yolks and spooning it into an old Ragu sauce jar. It now sits with its cap on in the coffee holder between the truck seats on its way to the vet.

I ran with both Hershey and Lily today, their fuzzy heads bobbing in tandem and shadows rippling across the ground. One gentle, droopy-eared image next to Lily’s pointed, stern profile. At home she curls and leans against my legs and I nearly lose balance.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You better take her out, Jerry tells me.

I sigh.

What? Why are you like that every time I say something about her?

I say, ya know, before I met you I did think for myself.

Nothing, no reply he is gone. He is in the kitchen and I am by the front door shoving my arms into a too big jacket.

Standing outside with Lily at 10 pm I look back and see my footprints pressed into the snow marking the little incremental places I have been. A spotlight behind us throws our shadows. Missing the shed and flying into the woods is a dark shape like Lily. She is 40 feet long and her ears are huge. My shadow crashes into the shed a few feet away where I am squat and hunched over in the cold with a hood squeezed over my head.

Covered in snow are the butterscotch colored puddles that Lily leaves behind. I should feed her a bright green marble and see how long that takes to pass. We turn and our shadows disappear, replaced by mini pools of darkness filling our footsteps where the light cannot reach. I want to poke a finger into one of those pools like a hole in the snow, then lift it -- a favorite quilt to wrap around me for comfort. Maybe happiness will make me nicer.

Earlier I called the vet. Any results for her blood test, I ask? Not for seven to ten days, he tells me. I would rather not hear something from his standard menu. I was hoping for something warmer. I was hoping for an answer. Why the diarrhea? When will it stop?

What’s the matter Lily, I hear Jerry say. I ask him, well, what?

Her stomach is gurgling.

Every night Jerry goes to bed and I go downstairs for a glass of wine and I read. Lily follows she is right on track like a bead of water slipping down a braided rope. She folds up and rests on her pillow and after a few minutes I hear something new. Something reassuring. Her breathing is shallow and steady. She is asleep. her stomack gurgles. Jerry had told me that no matter what, whenever he looks at her she is looking back. Now, she sleeps.

She might not make it, a co-worker told me. I think: I have never heard of a dog crapping herself to death … but if I say that out loud some helpful person will offer a correction, the answer bursting from them as if they have wandered the planet looking for a place to put this rotten knowledge.

Sunday at the bar I am pouring a Bass and I look up to see a familiar face. The last time I saw Charlie he stood with drizzle clinging to his hair and clothes. He held the end of her leash and Lily sat alert at his feet. Quietly that day he had said: bye, I love you Lily. I hear it too often in my head. He had led her over to my truck and closed the door.

Hello Charlie, I say. He drinks a gin and tonic. I press a lime around the rim of his glass and wonder if he wants Lily back. Could I let her go? Could I keep her from someone who loves her?

He waves tags at me. The rabies and licensing tags he promised.

How is she? The bar is busy I can’t talk and keep shouting replies over my shoulder as I reach for a Bud reach for the rum reach for the ice and fill a glass.

She’s a good girl, he says. She is a good girl, I tell Charlie.

I added up my vet bills for Lily and they came to the price if a crappy used car. Runs good, needs work. Yup. Thank you Jerry. He is my mechanic for many things.

We waited days and days for a heavy snow to come. Yesterday the night quieted -- its ears pressed to the door and listening for a storm. I got excited thinking that snow is pretty. This snow was supposed to be huge! I went to bed with the feeling like it was Christmas Eve, except it was nothing like Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Like soft breath February’s sun warms the surfaces it touches unlike December’s light that strikes a cheek a bare hand or lips and blows away. It’s 20 degrees but the sun is gaining its strength back as winter struggles to keep its place, its shoulder against the door. An earlier sunrise and slightly longer days push back. With my face turned toward early morning it warms me.

Lily turns dog food into puddles that freeze and harden and from nowhere possums lurk in shadows waiting to creep up to the buffet.

I wake before the early alarm and watch the clock add a minute to 5:18 5:19 5:20. No time to sleep the alarm will soon pry apart my closed eyes and mysteriously blend its way into last-minute dreams. I see faces from work and my cats are in the room and somewhere I look for the radio to stop it smash it and find relief in the exertion I realize it’s the Alarm.

Jerry. Jerry? The alarm went off, I tell him. I hope he either gets up soon, or lets me sleep. Suddenly he is up and crawling to get out of bed and I look at the clock. Seven minutes left and I spend them worrying about work Lily Jerry my job if I should stay if I should go why am I so afraid of taking a chance at something else did I pay the mortgage why can’t I just stay asleep?

I hear the shower as Jerry -- happily -- starts his day.

Where are my hiking shoes?

Out in the woods with Lily the sky brightens a stick our path stones that I hop across like they’re steps through a stream.

My shadow hits the ground and slices across a sudden whiskey hue that splashed leaves rocks trees and lights the strands of Lily’s fur and pools in her eyes. We stop and I turn to look over my shoulder past trees that stand both indifferent and firm. Through them is a common sight and a treasure as light stretches like a candle’s flame flickering above a dip in the horizon. It’s the sunrise Lily! Look.

A scream comes and it is close and piercing; familiar but louder. A red-tailed hawk reaches outward with its wings then floats to a perfect stop on a branch. Lily stares. Sunlight passes through her eyes like smoke.

Back home I step down into the basement. Oh. It’s everywhere in pools like some oblivious fool kept spilling slop all over the place and I go through nearly a full roll of paper towels to clean everything that I fed Lily last night. Again I drop into plastic bags and throw away all the food that should have soaked into her starving muscles blood bones and body.

Nancy at work asks me if I would consider again using a crate. As we discovered with her visit to the vet overnight, she had sat in her kennel and held it.

Well, that’s less for me to clean, but does Lily live in a crate all night? What about the daytime? Nope, I’ll wait until she is well.

This morning somewhere between the floor and my pocket of warmth where I slept I feel the atmosphere thicken. My head is heavy and I feel sudden pressure in my eye sockets. Today we wait for snow that will bury everything and we’ll wake with hope and reassess the world in its new clothes.

Guess where I am, Jerry asks me. I get his call late in the day. The woods?

Yup, all four of ‘em. Hershey Bandit Ozzy and Lily.

I drive home later that night and wait for a snow I know is coming. The clouds above press down and as I stand watching Lily squat everything is still like it’s sealed in place and I should remember this, a perfect model of quiet and of ordinary. Tomorrow I’ll call the vet to find out about Lily’s blood tests.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I am afraid of tumors cancer illness infection a house fire and I can't get home to help the animals escape they cough and scrape at the doors ripping their paws raw while fire smoke heat eat them alive they whimper are frantic and suffer. They are trapped. They burn. I can't get to them in time, but I will hear that call over our scanner at work: house fire, Great Quarter Road.

When I am stressed as in my dog is really sick and no one has any ideas why, I snap. Snap. I can't stop terrible images from rushing into the room inside my head and terrifying the calmer everyday thoughts. They don't taunt or bully but go directly to chairs and tables where my normal mind sits and slam it upside down. Headaches are spectacular and leave me nauseous, but it's been worse.

As a 25-year-old, an adult, I went into my room at my parents' house. I closed the door and did not leave that room for ten months. Each day I waited until the house was empty and would wander down, but go only as far as the deck outside. Back upstairs and the door closed and I hid again as mom dad my brother came home their lives normal and rhythmic like tides up each day to work back home and to bed. Ten months I was in there refusing to talk to anyone.

My car insurance ran out money ran out friends called and I did not answer the phone. My mother pushed notes under my door.

Anxiety is scratch marks against cheeks starting near the ears and ripping downward toward the jaw. Anxiety is not a bad mood it is a little malicious sliver that crawls beneath a fingernail and swells and hurts and bleeds and never heals until you want to take a very sharp blade and just slice it out.

Lily. She is a beautiful happy dog who has prompted all my stress and anxiety to wake up from its hiding places inside my head and run screaming from the locker room like last year's returning champion.

We are back at the vet because her rear end has no stopper plug shut off or door I can weld shut.

It's runny and impossible and Jerry tells me to just use the dust pan to scoop it up.

I need a snow plow and a dump truck.

I fill her bowl and unscrew the cap to enzyme powder that falls like magic dust that maybe will help but probably not and today after days of soup we saw a change. It was on the living room floor.

Oh no! I hear Jerry say. Laughing when I discover her mess, I realize I can easily clean that up.

Down, DOWN, down. Good girl, I hear from the living room.

Ten seconds pass, when I hear Jerry again: Oh, come on, he sighs. She has been pacing and circling and restless and annoying for more than an hour.

What? What's wrong what is she doing just put her downstairs, I say.

I would have, but I would have done that a long time ago.

Why didn't you?

You would get mad, he answers me.

I think that I am not mad, I am guilty. I brought Lily here and ever sturdy scrap of calm peacefulness and normal routine went into the blender.

Did you ask if Lily understands German? Yes, she does...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Crouching again to scoop her mess between paper towels and cupped hands I drop it into a plastic bag. Knotted and tied I carry this bag, this morning's bag, yesterday's bags up the spiral steps and out to the patio.
Raising the little bundles for Jerry to see, I tell him, here in these bags is all the weight I had hoped Lily would gain...

Friday, February 5, 2010

I look at Lily’s pee spreading across the hardwood floor and my head becomes heavy and hot like warm water filling my skull.
I am sorry Jerry, I tell him. He spent sweaty hours interrupted by scrapes and splinters to install this floor one board at a time.
This morning as urine rolled through the living room he was trying to carry a plate of fried eggs and his coffee to the table. The spill was trickling after Lily. Her footprints were beside it.
I went hunting for paper towels, spread them across the floor where they pulled moisture from seams and cracks, and crouched down to soak it up.
I am sorry Jerry.
STOP saying SORRY!
You think you’re making things better, I ask. I am upset and you’re YELLING.
I am upset TOO …
Later he is sorry and I am sorry and our lives are released from the task of carrying gloom around like a newborn and nurturing it with sour moods and frustrated thoughts.
Wondering what I must look like to a normal person, I squatted beside Lily’s mess and slapped clenched fists against my ears. Eyes squeezed shut and making a funny little whining noise. The dogs are familiar with it; they weave paths around each other, brushing noses against sides against thighs against cheeks and pass one another, turn, and cross the room again as they peek reluctantly at me then look away.
Heads are down slightly and their movements cautious. How could I do this to my dogs? Soon Hershey and Bandit rumble down the spiral stairs and I hear their doggy door clacking.
Standing with heavy wet warm paper towels I drop them in a trash bag and head downstairs.
In the shadows I know some long-lost enemy stands, arms folded, watching me try to pick up soupy messes with paper towels and cupped hands. Piles sit waiting for me as if someone stood with a bowl of pancake batter and poured it on the floor.
Angry and back upstairs I call the vet and say I don’t want to wait to see if the anti-inflammatory and new diet work I don’t want to put her in a kennel a crate a confined space where maybe she can hold it in but that’s not the problem. We have not yet determined the problem and I finally agree to a blood test.
I have reservations because we have to be sure she fasts for 12 hours and this dog can’t afford to lose a pound. Jerry will bring her to the vet at 9 the next morning. She isn’t supposed to eat after 9 the night before.
From the couch as he watches me make the appointment he extends his hands: thumbs up.
When I am exceptionally stressed the shadows move. Shadows in motion scurry in my peripheral vision then dive behind a door a couch a table a bed and out of sight. My little shadows tease, like the ambiguous form that followed me through my childhood dreams. The person’s face was never clear but I knew a few things: my dream friend was male, always my age — he kept pace with me as I grew— he had dark hair and dark clothes and whenever I try to see him even today I do not find features or a face. Now I have left his remnants swimming at the edge of vision where anxiety festers in my living room.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Truth is not a warm thing, but at times a listless, plodding message that we just have to swallow: The vet tells me that Lily is 48 pounds. For more than one month she has eaten much more than dogs twice her weight and has not gained anything. He assures me that if one method does not work, something else will. I should feel better, but I feel again like the mountain top I thought I was approaching is really a far horizon that runs away snickering because it has my heart.

Lily stayed with the vet for 24 hours. Dad comes with me and the vet tells us something good and bad. Lily didn’t go to the bathroom all night! We walked her this morning but her kennel was clean she is a clean girl. I wonder about all that crap I have been cleaning and mopping and bagging up and cleaning and mopping.

But, we learned that she can hold it.

Dad seems encouraged; I won’t be running after Lily with paper towels and cleaner anymore. But then I think a little more about this. So, Lily won’t poop if Lily is in a crate. So ... Lily lives in a crate.

That’s not a cure. That’s just fewer paper towels.

I come home from a meeting and Jerry tells me, she’s starving. She keeps going into the kitchen and pacing and I fed her a little but she’s hungry I think.

I hear him say starving and I panic. Can’t get the food into a bowl fast enough. I feed her. She jams her snout against the bowl like a prize is at the bottom. I feed her some more and the frenzy slows.

Watch her, Jerry warns, she just ate. Well, If I had a crate she could go there and just hold it already, but I take her out instead to decorate the dried leaves poking through a dusty snow.

My life is segmented by baby gates. Between the kitchen and living room. Between the living room and dining room. The trainer says they create little safe spots separating the dogs and while I teach one to sit, down, wait, leave it, and sing arias in French, the other guys can watch. Getting in the front door means leaving my bag groceries mail laptop outside and using both hands to slip inside to a sea of snouts. One round and bug-eyed little pug hops around and snorts, rushes under Lily’s belly and bounces against Bandit’s legs. Hershey wags like she is trying to pop herself in half.

Getting out of bed requires another sweater a scarf hat gloves fleece jacket and hiking boots. I love the smell of brewing coffee that Jerry makes on the stovetop. A few tablespoons of grounds go in the perforated canister that sits at the top of a metal tube. Add water and boil. I can smell it all the way in the woods where my guilt drags Lily and I so she gets exercise and I have peace of mind.

Outside next to the stonewall Lily and I walk and I wait for the unnamed scary thing in the dark to hit me in the back. My anxiety creates demons and they live in the dark. Shadows scare me. The cold is frightening, and I begin to imagine all the impossible fears that follow me around like tin cans on a string for no reason.

I say to Jerry: you know my most giant fear? Being adrift in space, all untethered and the Earth from here is not beautiful but unreachable.

A dream taunted me as I woke. I visited a neighbor and Lily’s leash flashed bright red. The red stays with me all day. We visit our neighbor and I remember thinking, wow the pale wood floors shine and the rooms are really tidy like a geometry puzzle. Sliding doors open to a backyard that is no larger than the little patch of grass you find surrounding the picnic tables in a camp site. A beautiful undulating and deep river meanders across the yard. What? OK, It’s a dream and in that perfect backyard with a picturesque river are my neighbors. I think my mind actually borrowed characters from people living at the end of my road. They have a healthy, full, tall, strong and bold German Shepherd. I have Lily and a bright red leash.

I will stay with the vet’s recommended diet and supplements and follow his stern orders: no other foods or scraps or anything! She has another appointment two Mondays from now.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If stress had a song it would be screaming. Writing is a hole and I crawl in.

Lily isn’t here tonight and I think of her sitting in a stainless steel kennel just big enough for a dog and doing her best not to trap herself in her own mess that would cling like tar to her fur.

Pretty wisps of tan and black fur like a fine bristled brush across canvas will be plastered to her sides legs paws. I am only guessing.

I warm up the truck and wonder if she is ready for a ride I hope I don’t break down. Reaching out I pet her she is quiet and looks out the window, past my face, out the window again. We pass the house where she had lived before I picked her up.

We ran in the woods before sunrise I fed her good and now I go to drop her off in other people’s care. Please take care of her. Bye bye Lily.

Twenty four hours, the vet had said to me last night, and immediately many things inside my head stood up, arms flailing. Relief was the tallest and had the busiest arms. I don’t like relief this time. He doesn’t signal triumph at the end of one ordeal or hurdle, but gratitude that something will stop, if only briefly, and it feels good for selfish reasons. Bigger than guilt is my urge to welcome it. For one night Lily will be with the vet all day and over night and he will observe.

I know I will go home to my house the way it used to be, a house that is cozy and rustic and calm and all the dogs have their favorite spots. No one is living inside a constantly rattling snow globe where all the pieces of everyday normal stuff are spinning around. Inside the emotions bang in a frenzy against ribs skull eye sockets leaving dents and stupid, stupid stars when I sit up too fast. Lily went off like a bomb in my house and it’s my fault.

Jerry tells me, you’re just doing the right thing.
I leave her at the animal hospital asking, you'll give her something to eat, right? By 3:30 that afternoon I wonder how she is. My sense of humor is dead, which is when gloom’s chilly hand takes away the sun for a sputtering florescent tube.

Everything I do at work includes looking at the clock the phone the clock and finally I grab the phone and call.

How is Lily, I ask.

The doctor is with someone, they tell me; he’ll call back. WHEN?

By the time he calls the sun is already putting on its coat, back turned and waiting in line for the door. I look outside at long shadows stretching toward night and hear the vet say something surprising. She hasn’t gone to the bathroom once!

What? Nope, not once.

He tells me what type of food, what time, how much, and that she liked it. She likes anything, I think, she even liked the small container of clay with the label, Lily Bobowick. Give one scoop twice daily until gone. I know they mean the contents, which is powdered clay, but I imagine Lily evaporating.

At home approaching the house I smell camping campfires marshmallows hints of pure beautiful dense wood burning. Inside Jerry lit a fire and the dogs are in the usual spots where they liked to rest before Lily.

I hate to say it, but I am sort of glad she’s not here for the night, he said.

They told me at 3:30 that she didn’t go to the bathroom at all, I say.

Her diarrhea was horrible and relentless. I had been feeding 48-pound Lily the German shepherd at least three times what I feed our fat 90-pounder and the chubby 75-pound lab. How is it that she has not gained one pound? It’s the same as strapping a sweet potato to her back, but she hasn’t gained even that much.

You know, even if she stops pooping because if pills or clay or whatever, that doesn’t solve the problem, Jerry said. I agree. She can be bound up for days, but it doesn’t mean she’s better. There is a reason that she ate tons for a month and didn’t gain a pound. Thyroid liver pancreas enzyme deficiency or something enflamed? What’s wrong with poor Lily?

A few phone calls give me some pieces of information to add together. Her owner tells me she had a kennel and gladly hopped into it when he asked. She spend most of her time outside. Maybe she learned to hold it and wouldn’t go to the bathroom while she was tucked into her kennel, but that doesn’t mean she did not need to go. Is she sitting there at the hospital now, more than 12 hours later, trying trying trying to hold it? She is a quiet dog and never complains. She would sit silently as the technicians turned out the lights at the day’s end, and closed the door. Some time before morning she won’t be able to squeeze anymore and she will go to the bathroom in her little bitty space and have to sit in it. Would they be upset with her? Again, I am guessing.

Looking around our quiet house and glancing at Lily’s bowl that sits where she left it this morning before we went to the vet, the bowl I step around while I am in the kitchen, the bowl I refuse to move and put away, the bowl I am looking at when I ask, how do you deal with the stress?

Jerry answers, I don’t. I yell at them. Honestly, the most stress is taking Lily out every 20 minutes because I am afraid she’s going to go on the floor, he said.

I just have meltdowns instead and end up hollowed out and uneven and somehow diminished like that candle we left on the hearth, but too close to the fire.

I don’t feel too bad. I could dislike myself just a little for sending Lily on a sleep-over, but I don’t feel that. I don’t see shadows encroaching from the corners carrying buckets of ice water to pour down my spine. I don’t see gauzy fog coming to blur my sight as I cry.

I do normal night things all night and for the whole night without Lily following behind and bumping my legs. I do dishes without stepping on her paw and laundry without a need to glance around the messy nest of clothes in my arms to see if she is in the way. I don’t move through the house with a constant eye toward Lily. Does she need to go out? Is Bandit curling a lip and staring at her? Is Hershey OK? Where did Ozzie go?

I fold towels for the downstairs bathroom and remember my morning shower. I leave the light off and just after 7 am the sun rises, shoots across frozen ground, soaks through the windows, and finds me standing in the hot water. Suds in my hair, eyes closed, I rinse and open them again to watch dim tiles turn vibrant when the light hits. Glancing through the glass shower door I see two dark, bent shapes on the rug. Lily and Hershey. Tails and feet and snouts turned toward one another like a mirror, they rest and wait for me to step out. Hershey licks the warm water from my calves.

Lily. She gives me purpose. She is an answer for the hundreds of times anxiety ran me over and I would ask, what am I doing? What is the point? I tell Jerry how angry I am every Monday when I have failed to change everything so that I am happy. It is not like rearranging furniture, but I keep thinking if I change this and this and this, then I’ll be happy. I resign myself to going through the routing next week, the same as last week, because I don’t have any other plan. Lily has really dragged my lazy attention up from staring at my feet and made me look at something else. Thank you Lily. She has me out of bed early and up late with these words. Thank you Lily. I’ll go downstairs to read and look at her pillow. I’ll be by myself tonight.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A moment of weightless weird buoyancy occurs when the elevator begins its descent. There is a bubble that starts somewhere in the sternum. Beneath the feet -- nothing. The floor drops and gravity has to rearrange its grip, rework the pulleys and tug down. When I hear the veterinarian’s suggestion there is a moment of weightlessness and buoyancy: I don’t know how you’ll feel about this, he says, but how about I take her for 24 hours? He asks, has there been any change? None. Nothing at all? None.

He tells me, I would like to have her here and observe what she does. Bring all her medications.

Poor Lily is a sick dog and I just can’t get a pound on her. I had asked her vet when I should start to worry and he told me, not yet.

OK. Not yet.

But it’s too late.

In my dream I drive and I reach for the brakes. Stepping on the pedal I press and it just flops underfoot.

Stuff starts whipping past me.

Outside at night the shadows make me tingle and I am afraid. The fear is nameless and without identity and only a reflex that strikes when I stare at the branches moving across a full moon. Lily! I want to go in. Quickly. I run and trip down stone steps. Palm out I stop myself before colliding with the wooden siding that Jerry spent so long repairing.

We are inside again and I have to put Lily downstairs. She paces and chases cats and is having a really restless night unlike the days when she drops her hips elbows knees and head down on the big doggy pillow with stuffing popping out one torn corner. What a good dog. She doesn’t bark, but I hear a high whine as she wheezes out her nose. That’s the only sound of her distress.

I am tired and inspiration is this cold, limp thing that droops across my shoulders and hugs me like wet cement. It is all mine for as long as I think I need it.

I don’t have it in me to put down good words today.