Saturday, September 16, 2017


“Why do all the clouds look like Peter Pan?” Silky asks, “And none of them look like me?”

          We are atop High Hill again—Silky, Peter Pan, Harley, Bobo and me—looking upward into a sky afloat with white and bulbous clouds, which do in fact look a great deal like Peter Pan, in an assortment of his various sleeping shapes.

          My gaze had been intent on the smallest of these clouds, attempting to make it disperse. I held steady, noting some success around the edges, but could sense the four of them watching me, awaiting my reply.  

          ‘I don’t know’, is a phrase that does not exist in the vocabulary of dogs. For them it is better to fabricate an answer, than it is to go on without knowing. Not a lie, per say, but a true possibility.

           “Silky,” I say, being aware of this thing, and look down the line of boy dogs to find her brown and anxious eyes.

          “Your clouds are night clouds.”

          Bobo and Harley look slightly puzzled. Peter Pan’s ears are perked. Silky’s eyes positively dance.
   
           I go on.

         “They are rare and magnificent, black as your fur, and can only be seen at three forty-two, when the moon is blue and double full, and only the oldest of crickets is chirping.”

          I know they are coming—the questions—and stand after saying this, to brush the grass from the seat of my pants and rub the clouds from my eyes.

          So grows the history of dogs.




           

Friday, August 25, 2017


'Silky ... 
'What do you have in you mouth?'
'Don't jump.'
'Out of the flowers.'
'Quit chewing on Peter Pan's ear.'
'Quit chewing on Peter Pan's leg.' 
'Did you tear this up?' '
'Settle down.'
'Don't dig there.' 
'Go potty.' 
'Sit.' 
'Sit.' 
'Sit.'
'Good Girl.' 
'That's Peter Pan's.' 
'You have your own Chew.' 
'Hold still.' 
'I love you Silky Joe.' 
'Good night.' 



Monday, August 21, 2017


We've made lunch for the Eclipse. A picnic. Chicken for Peter Pan, because he doesn't care for bologna. Bologna for Silky, because she doesn't care for chicken. Bobo and Harley aren't so fussy. The vegetables are mine. 

     We'll carry it to the top of High Hill in a wicker basket, lay down a blanket, eat, and wait for the World to grow dark. 

     Priscilla and Carl are coming, with their family. Agnes with hers. The four cows will be there, too, the rabbits, squirrels and deer. Everyone. We're not chasing this afternoon. We're waiting and we're watching. Once in a great while we can do that here: Sit. For a few minutes at least. 





  

Thursday, August 17, 2017


He would ride with me in the truck. Everywhere.
Eventually, he would ask if I would let him drive. 
Eventually, I would say yes. 
And for this reason, I should never be given a chimpanzee.





Tuesday, August 15, 2017

“I’ve seen a total eclipse before,” Silky says.

     Having received our glasses to view the upcoming solar phenomena, Bobo, Harley, Peter Pan, Silky and me, walked to the top of High Hill, to see what the World and bumblebees would look like through them. There we sat. In a line. Silky on one end, I on the other, and the boys in between. 
     “It was positively wonderful,” Silky went on to say about the eclipse that she alleged to have seen. 
     The four of us boys turned to Silky in unison; brows raised high above are darkened glasses. 
     Silky was looking straight upward at what appeared to be a buzzard circling in the cloudless sky. 
     “Silky,” I said. “You aren’t even old enough to have seen snow." 
     Silky’s head snapped around so quickly her Eclipse glasses came loose from one perked ear and were left dangling from the other. The boys flinched. 
      “Snow?” Silky asked. “What’s Snow?”
      Bobo, Harley and Peter Pan turned from Silky to me. 
     I, of course, rubbed my chin. 
     “Snow,” I said, as if it were common knowledge, “is ice cream that falls from the sky.” 
     Oh how Silky’s eyes widened. Her glasses dropped to the grass, unnoticed, and I went on. 
     “It falls and falls and falls, until, on perfect days, the whole wide world is covered in great, white, pillowy heaps of it, deeper, even, than Bobo is tall.” 
      Not even a gasp of astonishment came from Silky’s wide open mouth, so dumbfounded was she by the thought of what I had just described. 
       The boys turned their gaze silently back to the sky, possibly to search for the lone buzzard, or possibly to enjoy the quiet for the moment it might last, or perhaps to stand, in their own minds, knee-deep in ice cream, a thought that could never, ever, be eclipsed. 





Tuesday, August 8, 2017



One by one Silky is unearthing Peter Pan's plethora of buried treasures ... treats ... soil softened and delectable now, somehow, beyond even dog words.








        

Thursday, August 3, 2017



If Peter Pan gets six hiccups, Silky has twenty-six. It's just that way with Silky and hiccups and stuff.




  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017



Silky has started a bug collection. In her stomach. Along with the bark she skinned from a table leg, the bruised and blackened half of an apple, the hindquarters of something small and dead,  half a roll of paper towels, a potty pad, an assortment of squeakers and a great deal of mole-flavored dirt, "For the bugs to play in," she says. 





Friday, July 28, 2017


The big dogs are sleeping. Silky goes first to one, and then the other, stretching out on the floor to lay nose to nose until they grumble, like old thunder, far off and benign.


  

Thursday, July 27, 2017



“Who is this?” Silky asks.

     It was Silky’s turn to choose a bedtime story.

    On the cover of the book Silky found stands a befreckled girl, hands poised defiantly on her hips and orange-red braids sticking nearly straight out from either side of her head. She wears a broad, mischievous grin, a monkey on her shoulder, and enormous black and dilapidated shoes on her feet, that may or may not have once belonged to a Pirate.

     “This,” I tell Silky, “is a most adventuresome girl, to whom the rules of man have never managed to apply themselves.” 

     “What does that mean?” Silky asks.

    “It means, little angel, that she is a great deal like you."

      Silky's eyes widen. She's terribly fond of herself and anything like her. 

     "This one then," Silky says of the book, and off we go to bed. 


     I suspect we'll be adding Longstockings to someone's name soon.  





Wednesday, July 26, 2017


You know those fidgety, distractable children in school, who don't seem to be learning anything at all, until they're tested, and then they end up being super geniuses and stuff, knowing everything that was taught to them and more? I think Silky Joe is one of those children.     





Friday, July 7, 2017



Silky is just that. She shines, black as a crow but for her long tan socks, muzzle and smudged on brows. 

Four months, Dr. Miller says she is, twenty-three pounds. 

She stands tall and still on the high metal table as he listens to her heart beat.

"Good girl, Silky," I tell her, "Good girl."

Silky wags only the very tip of her tail. She beams though, with pride at my praise, her eyes sparkle at the sound of her new name

"She'll make somebody a fine dog," Dr. Miller says, having finished his examination. "Somebody." And he shoots me a wink, because we both have a good idea of who that somebody is going to be.  



   

Monday, June 26, 2017



‘Oh no, no, no, you don’t,’ I hear Agatha, above the Semi-Secret garden, say.
          
     I turn to see a flutter of rust, high in the Cherry tree there, and down Agatha swoops from its branches into the Garden.
          
     ‘Steven!’ she calls.
           
     I am already at the gate, letting myself in.
          
     ‘Your boy ...’ and by this Agatha means, of course, Peter Pan. ‘Your boy is snooping where he ought not to snoop.’
          
     Being a Thrasher, Agatha is something of a recluse, to whom the Semi-Secret garden, with its high Privet hedge made for the perfect place to home. Her chicks tend to grow brave before they grow strong, often venturing from the nest able only to fly enough to keep them from dropping to the ground like a stone. There they hop about under Agatha’s watchful eye until they can take fully to the air.
          
     Peter Pan is indeed between the flowers, with his nose to the ground. I would guess on the trail of a rabbit, but Peter Pan is young and not one to discriminate when it cuts to the chase.
          
     ‘Peter Pan!’ I call, and he comes, taking his time, on a path of his own devise, tromping and stomping and wagging his tail.
          
     ‘Gads,’ Agatha says, ‘What that boy does to your flowers.’
          
     I sigh in agreement. 

     ‘If only he was half as considerate as your chicks, Agatha.'
          
      It’s best to pay Agatha a compliment or two after ruffling her feathers so.

       We wish her a good day then, Peter Pan and I, and behind us close the gate.





Thursday, June 22, 2017



“Peter Pan?”
          
    When I wake and leave the bed, Peter Pan takes my place. He curls into the warm hollow that my shoulder makes there, his head on the pillow as mine had been.
          
      “I have your breakfast,” I tell him, and raise the bowl in which I carry his two eggs, sunny side up. 
          
      His eyes open just the tiniest bit.
          
      They close.
          
      They open.
          
      They close again. And this final time, remain closed.
          
     I sit on the bed beside him, place the bowl near to his nose and stroke his pearl white fur.
          
      He sighs ... a soft snore, a dog’s purr, if you will.
          
     “I don’t think I’m a morning person,” Peter Pan, in time, confides to me. “I just don’t.”

          
      No buddy, I don’t believe you are. 



   

Monday, June 19, 2017



Six halves of eggshell lay on the ground beneath the back porch light, on top of which Carl and Priscilla’s nest resides. 

     “What are those?” Peter Pan asks of the shells. 

   As eggs are quite often involved in Peter Pan’s breakfast, I answer carefully, “I believe the babies have arrived.” 

   Peter Pan wants to see, so I lift him and we count together three bald heads, there inside the fluff of the mudded nest. 

    “Just three,” we hear Priscilla confirm behind us, and before we can turn, she has swooped in and is perched on the porch light with food in her beak for the chicks: something with wings and a great deal of disheveled legs. 

   “I figured that was enough,” Priscilla says, “For my first.” She's a sensible girl, who learned from her mother, who learned the hard way, that five makes for a crowded nest.    

  Hearing her voice, the chicks raise up, wobbling and bobbling, all mouth, their bright yellow beaks opened wide and needing to be grown in to. 

     Peter Pan and I watch as one, two, three the chicks are fed. 

     "Just enough," Priscilla says, and off she flies again. 





         

Sunday, June 18, 2017



Something had come to perplex William Stevenson.

    Nothing much, as far as perplexing things go. Nothing quite so mystical as how the grub worm will read the story of a tree by boring into its trunk; chewing through the annual rings there, where, like a sort of Braille, are kept a tree’s greatest concerns: tales of drought and deep ice, of seedlings and cool, gray rains. 

    Nothing as unknowable as the depth of the Heavens. Of what perplexed William, he was fairly certain there was an answer. He just hadn’t discovered it yet.

      William Stevenson’s eggs had begun to stick, you see. Stick to the pan. 

     Five days now, he had scrapped them from the floor of his iron skillet, something William could not remember ever having to do, something that frustrated him to no end, and William was not an easily frustrated person. 

   There was a way that William Stevenson liked to eat his eggs, and scrapped from the floor of a skillet was not, that, way.  




 

Thursday, June 15, 2017


I am in your garden, 
a deep meadow, rich with color, 
strolling. 
Fingertips, as if in water, trace your plantings 
that seem an act of nature so perfectly have they grown, 
gem after gem tied together by humble yet verdant grasses,
and here I stoop to closer see, 
‘The dream was too beautiful to doubt.’ 

These bindings are a vase.




Thoughts while reading 'The Magician's Elephant'





Wednesday, June 14, 2017



There’s no being Faulkner or Flannery with a rubber ball being dropped incessantly onto the hardwood at your feet.




Friday, June 9, 2017


“The children are doing well,” Priscilla tells me, when she has no choice but to sit and can finally talk. “They send their love. They’ve grown.”

        She and her husband Carl have been busy refurbishing the mudded nest atop my back porch light. Priscilla’s mother did it before her and her mother’s mother, too. They were all named Priscilla.    
 
      Priscilla and Carl are Barn Swallows. Barn Swallows don’t much care for change. Names and nests, they’re passed along, mother to daughter, father to son. 

      They fly south for the winter. Priscilla and Carl have a nest on the porch of another little farmhouse in Chile, near a small town named Talca. There are two children there on the farm, Luis and Anna. 

        Carl is too busy collecting bugs to talk, but Priscilla has laid the first of her eggs and must sit, so she tells me now the news from Luis and Anna. Of their birthdays and loose teeth, the llamas they raise, and of their great-grandfather, Oscar, who sits on the porch near their nest and tells story after wondrous story.

       Priscilla will tell me too, eventually, of their journey. Of the miles and storms and passersby. We have two weeks to talk, a little more, before the eggs hatch and she must gather food as well. Two weeks to fill her, like a postcard, with stories and love to return to Luis and Anna and Oscar, who sit in the warmth of a porch far, far south, waiting.  


        

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


'Can I be Peter Pan, too,' Pete asked, one night after I had finished reading to him from that boy's adventures. 
'I don't see why not,' I said. 'You nearly are already.' 
'Do I need to be sprinkled with something?' he asked. 
'No,' I said. 'Only if you want to fly away and leave me lonely forever.' 
'You'll be lonely?' 
'Incredibly so,' I told him. 
Pete tilted his head to the left and then tilted his head to the right, a thing that he does when he's thinking on a matter intently. 
'Just the name then,' he said, finally. 'And a jacket, perhaps, that's green.' 

That sounds like a plan, Peter Pan, Peter Pan. That sounds like a plan to me.





Sunday, June 4, 2017


If I was rain I'd fall gently. 
Birds like me better that way. 
I'd leave plenty of room for sunshine, 
because even I prefer blue to gray. 
If I was rain I'd remember
every nest in every hole and tree, 
and fall to the left just a little, 
because there's a little mother and father in me.

If I was rain I'd fall gently.
Gentle is a good thing to be.   





Saturday, June 3, 2017



Sproutings and bloomings, courtings and hatchings, burrowings and nestings, clippings and thinnings, and always the rising of the great green tide. 

Busy is this place called Spring.    




   

Friday, June 2, 2017


My house has memory, and in its day dreamings speaks the soft scents of buttered pancakes and maple syrup, of hickory fires and bread, fresh from the oven.



Tuesday, January 31, 2017



There was only the moon. A perfect crescent. Tilted upwards. And above it, a single star. Blazing. 

‘Wow,’ the boy said, and the three dogs looked to the sky.

‘It’s my birthday star,’ Pete said, when it was clear that everyone was amazed. 

The big dogs looked at Pete, and then to the boy, who was looking at Pete as well. 

Pete only continued to look upwards. At the star. His birthday star. 

‘Snacks and presents,’ he finally said, and turned and marched back to the house.                



                                                                             

Sunday, January 22, 2017



On warm nights when the moon is full, the big dogs stay outside. And when they bark at the things that howl and screech, little Pete and I raise our heads to listen, then move closer to each other and wonder until we fall back to sleep.  





Sunday, January 15, 2017


Blue Jays and Red birds fill the bare branches, a curious Spring. 

  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Pete wants me to sew pockets on to his new dog jacket. For provisions.