Those who have been reading Metaphor quite a while know that I used to have a little dog named Tasha. When she came to live with me, her former owners said she was about 14 months old. It was October,1991. So not knowing her exact birthday, I decided we would celebrate it on the first Saturday in August every year.
That idea found it’s way into the poem below. You can tell it was written a while back, because of the references to then-current events.
You can see a video of Tasha eating a cookie on her last birthday, August 2005, by clicking here. There’s a bunch of photos of her and a tribute too.
Today is the first Saturday in August.
Happy birthday, old friend, wherever in the Heaven of Dogs you are playing today. I still miss you, always will. Remember to show up at the bridge on time, OK?
Stand facing the ocean
with your back to the railroad tracks.
Stand there even if a train goes by,
a long, thundering freight. Stand
even when the sun is rising or setting.
Stand facing the ocean in the rain.
If the air is still in your shaded patio
play the windchimes by hand.
Cast a big reflection
of your joy across the yard.
Stop to watch a lizard sleeping
on a stone. It’s bad to awaken
reptiles, who dart into the jasmine
with their tails flickering.
Pray for peace in eastern Europe
for sobriety and a cure for AIDS.
Slow down passing graveyards,
hospitals, nursing homes.
Cross yourself or bow your head. Do this
also passing the tavern and the jail.
If tears come, believe in them.
Choose a Saturday, declare it Dog’s Birthday.
Buy squeaky toys, chewy things, party hats
and candles. Put off washing the car.
Take the dog out and stand facing
the ocean, with your back to America
and your face in the stormlight,
in the awesome churning of solitude,
until it’s time to turn again for home.
Stormlight by J. Kyle Kimberlin is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Feel free to copy and share!