May 5, 2022

Perfect Love

Perfect Love
May 5, 2022

I am a dog lover. I've painted most of my dogs over the years. And in the last couple of years I have found that when a friend loses their dog, I ask them for a photo and they send it. I make a small painting from their photo and then present them with the little painting. It means so much to them, to have a physical place of focus top channel their wonderful memories of their lost best friend. I love doing it.

A few weeks ago I was invited to submit a poem for a little poetry contest. On a plane trip last week I pecked out what would become this piece. It is about Ray,  big Yellow Labrador we had. I loved Ray and he and I were inseparable, until the night of 21 July, 2014. My wife Dorothy and I will never forget that night. I just had to write about it. The painting of Ray was made three months after he passed.


Perfect

It was time for Ray to go

He was twelve 

A big yellow Labrador


My heart and soul


One summer night

Under the Milky Way

Ray labored as he took his final breaths


On the lawn 

In front of the house

His heart was failing

Mine was breaking


Dorothy played 

Leonard Cohen’s, “Hallelujah”

On her phone


In one final heaving breath

Ray left his body

And was gone.

2:30 am

What to do


Bury him in the tree beds in front

Fetch the shovel


Dorothy holds the flashlight

As I dig  

Gleaming in sweat

A shallow grave but just deep enough.

A scene from a Sam Shepard play


Then to carry

Ray’s 100lbs dead weight

Wrapped in a towel

A long and slow twenty yards

Gently placing him

Down into the earth 

Cover him with dirt


Shuffle to garage to return the shovel

The sprinklers erupt 

Precisely then

Spraying healing mist into the troubled air

Uncanny

Perfect


Many months of grieving

Passing slowly

Sitting alone 

Bereft

Seeing Ray all around


Leaves left the trees

Days became short

And then something changed

 

The old excitement

Of a new dog reached me again

I have been through this before


But how

What dog could follow Ray

Was the conundrum


It came to me 

Only Ray could find his successor

I asked and asked

Ray, you can do it

I cannot


Winter came

And lingered

And then left

Green sprigs and Snow Drops appeared

A call came from John, an old friend

A fellow lover of dogs


Markie, a Black Labrador

retired show dog

Two and a half years

Was available for adoption

Loving 

Loyal

Gentle 

My new heart and soul

I am perplexed and comforted 

By this magic

I know it was Ray

Who found Markie


My boy Markie, 

Now turning nine at next birthday

And sugar around his mouth


I am enjoying him

More than I can say

With awarness of the day 

Will come when the cycle

Of life and death

Will turn again


I comfort myself 

Thinking

When I pass

Ray will be waiting

With the others


Bert

Spike

Pepsi

Vee-Vee

Misty

And Markie


This is how it is with

Lovers of dogs

Maybe that’s the key;

We get to love so many

Of God’s dogs


And share 

Perfect love