It has been almost a month since I let my dog “go gentle into that good night.” Getting over it has been harder than I imagined; she was such a big part of my daily life. But bit by bit I am getting to the point where I do not expect to find her waiting for me when I come home.
I read the poem below on the Poetry Daily site years ago. It has consoled me these last days with images so closely resembling my memories of Cammy.
Towards a Theology Based on Labrador Retrievers
by Tina Kelley
I am arguing in the affirmative: that the Creator moves among us today
in Brooklyn, in the form of a black dog named Addie. Her benevolence is deeper
than the farthest foxhole, her gentleness thick as husky fur. Were she human,
she would sort and fold strangers’ clothing at the laundromat. Were she only a dog,
she would not fetch without being asked. There is abundance in her, like the butterfly
laying its eggs midair. Bountiful and democratic is her spirit: she licks my hand
like a spa treatment, she sleeps, calm back flat by my flank, breathing like a separate sea.
She dreams of the squirrel’s flicking, scolding tail, its visible neener neener neener.
Her vengeance is quick and awful. Yet love of fellowship runs in her blood,
her song like the bird’s that is only heard among other birds. She has taught me
the help given to the soul by the mile-wide lawn dotted with trees, by the tossed scrap.
I believe in her greetings, in the wide-maple way she roams from one scent to another.
Bury me in this part of the park where the dogs run without leashes, mix my ashes
with hers. Shield us in our joy, o protector, o collar. Let her true heart be contagious.
Copyright Tina Kelley
Reprinted with permission
And when at last I’ve found you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do
Endear you to me
Ah, you know I will
– Lennon and McCartney
There is a song running through my brain this morning that our friend Kerry brought to our attention last year. It is called “Trouble in the Fields” by Nanci Griffith and Rick West. It starts out:
“Baby, I know that we’ve got trouble in the fields
When the bankers swarm like locusts
out there turning away our yield.”
The only recorded version I’ve heard of it is by Griffith and she sings it quickly and lightly. When Kerry sings it at the Acoustic Coalition, the sound is so much more soulful.
Dave and I sing it together, too, generally in private or for my mom (she and Dave share a love of the guitar). I can’t match the richness of Kerry’s voice. And I have this little problem where parts of it bring tears to my eyes.
I suppose I’m feeling sorry for myself. I haven’t blogged much because I still feel there is just one topic — that business is hard and getting harder. How many times can I say that without beginning to feel like I am creating it just by giving voice to it?
But there is a part of this song that gives me comfort and hope that we can work our way out of this. We’re strong enough and we have the will to do it. It is in the refrain:
“And all this trouble in our fields,
If this rain can fall, these wounds can heal.
They’ll never take our native soil.
But if we sell that new John Deere
Then we’ll work this farm with sweat and tears.
You’ll be the mule, I’ll be the plow,
Come harvest time we’ll work it out.
There’s still a lot of love,
here in these troubled fields”
These are the images in my mind as I start my day — images of working steadfastly together as best we can, with hope and love, sweat and tears.