Walking in the West Oak Cemetery

Dakota (my vision for Nugget)
Walking in the West Oak Cemetery


Our path is well worn with quiet company 
and silent memories. We walk this way 
nearly every day, an adventure of sorts for 
me and my dog, Nugget, a big brown bear of a dog,
ever curious, even as his hearing dissipates like summer rain on a sidewalk. He’s blind now, but that seems to have only heightened his courage, not stopped him at all from looking at everything with fresh young eyes. He shows me the meaning of beginner’s mind, slow strides shape a sense of optimism, intrigue, and mystery. 

The air is crisp, one of those days when birdsong
sounds clearer, with the fall breeze rolling in
as if the sea were near. Just a month ago 
the sun was bright in the sky and the air
was warm as a winter’s fire in the den. 
The light around us has a smoky orange glow, the last of the sun squeezing her light through 
the old oaks that border the west perimeter 
of this graveyard that is our walking world. 

Nuggie leads me along at a gentle pace,
not the hurried rush of his youth, or mine. 
Sniffing every tree along the gravel path 
that meanders through this little spirit village – 
as if he’s never been here before. 
What is it that makes him linger? 
The sweet scent of a comrade he’d like 
to meet one day, nose-to-nose, I suspect. 

Sometimes he paws at a patch of grass,
like there’s an answer to a question he’s been asking his entire life. I confess, I tend to lose my patience after he’s done this 3 times, so I give a little tug on his leash and he reluctantly lifts his gray old face offering the most pathetic of expressions, as if to say “Really? This is my joy!” 

Nug disappointed with me, and me 
disappointed with me, we amble along. 
I lose myself in the crunch of my boots 
on the pebbled path, the swish of my sweater
as my arms move to the rhythm of our walk.

As the first fall leaves drip from the sky,
my little Nugget lifts his moist dark nose
as if he can smell the passage of the season, 
and understand how dying makes compost for the living.  

This poem is also part of a collection I put together called Little Morsels of Delight.

sumptuous summer sunday

Soumenlinna, Helsink, Finland
sumptuous summer sunday

in the car
windows rolled down
warm air washing over us 
the dogs’ heads hanging out the windows
their noses twitching at the wind
on the way to the city park 
for our walk along the river 
in the summer sun 
on this sumptuous sunday, 
we catch all of the green lights 
Every. 
Single. 
One. 
and we ease into life’s flow 
our hearts smiling 
as we allow the world to support us. 

Exhilaration

Dog playing on the beach in San Agustinillo, Mexico – Jan 2021
 Exhilaration
  
 Oh, the way the dogs
 tumble over the sand like
 rocks freed from the mountainside
 rolling, rolling, rolling
 until
 too tired to keep going
 then
 stopping to feel the exertion
 and the exhilaration of exhaustion 

This was the first in a series of poems I wrote while on holiday in San Agustinillo, Mexico last month. I love the freedom of the dogs there. (And, how over the past 16 years, the dogs have become healthy and well cared for.) They are a source of daily inspiration (and energy!). I’ve included a couple of bonus photos of the 2 dogs who hung out with Jim and I at our posada. This poem is part of an online collection I call Little Morsels of Delight.

Celeste joining a morning walk
Lucy wanting to know if we have anything tasty in our room