Poem for Maxman

You are here for
anniversaries and dinners.

You are here for
tears and laughter.

My hand sinks into
your soft fur. You
look up into my eyes.

My hand drops.
Your white paw reaches,
suspended in air,
a request for connection.

In empty moments,
when my anger and sadness
pour out onto the
red sofa where you are
sitting,
you give me, in their place,
safety and assurance.

You are my great friend.
You are stability and gratitude.
You are my companion.

We have, again and again,
walked through nature,
exploring.
You pause, ears alert,
at bird song or the deer’s silent pose.

You are the greatest cliche
ever written.

I search for the num lock key
and the accent code and
you secret under the desk,
plunk
beside
my feet.

I am grounded in you.

 

 

 

I Was On My Way to Walk Max and Heard This

PATRICK LANE: THE MACARONI SONG

I remember macaroni,
the end of the month,
the last week
when there was so little.

I made up
a song for the children.

The Macaroni Song!

Around the table
we would go,
laughing and singing.

Macaroni, Macaroni!

I can’t make the song
work now on the page,
just remember, we
laughed so hard.

My wife stood
over the grey metal
where the macaroni boiled.

She never sang the song.

It was always six o’clock.

The children would cry:

Sing the Macaroni Song!

And I would sing.

One night
I stole three tomatoes
from Mister Sagetti’s garden
and dropped them
into the curl of water.

My wife.
She loved me.
We worked so hard
to make a life.

Three tomatoes.
I still dream of them.
We were, what you
would call now, poor.

But when we danced
around the table,
my sons and my one
daughter in my hands
and sang the macaroni
song, God, in that moment,
we were happy.

And my wife at the grey stove
spooned the pale bare curls
onto each plate
and that one night
the thin threads
of three tomatoes.

I still dream of them.

Mister Sagetti, dead,
wherever you are
I want to say
this poem is for you.
I’m sorry I stole
your tomatoes.
I was poor and I
wanted, for my children,
a little more.

Some mornings when I sit in church, for awhile, I pray that I will just have ‘enough’.  As I gaze at the evening news, I know that I have so much ‘more’.  Anyway, I just always want to be a soft place where my adult children can fall…I always want to have ‘enough’ so that I can bless their lives with what they need…not necessarily what they want…the cars, the money, the tuition…I hope that I can give them what they need.

I treasured the poem that Patrick Lane shared on a CBC program while I was driving to yet another off leash park with Max.  I had to sit in the van upon arrival because for one, I required the artistic inspiration, but also, I needed to hear Lane’s own admission through the poem The Macaroni Song.

It’s Father’s Day and I remember that it was not always easy for my parents.  Month to month, they also found the pantry was drained and meals had to be simple.  I responded emotionally as I heard the poem read over CBC radio.  I feel the poem at a very deep place.

CBC Program With Patrick Lane

October 31, 2008

Halloween evening…traditionally, a big ‘thing’ for me…loving the ‘characters’coming to my door.  Also, this year, I am  letting go of an anniversary…and we all know how those ‘firsts’ are a struggle…here is a ‘first’ for me. This evening Max and I curl up in the family room…he snoozes now in his red chair and I sip a glass of a beautiful Chianti 2005 from Castiglioni.  One of my Thanksgiving guests must have left it behind for me.  It is beautiful, and a perfect treat as I sit and write an update here.

One daughter in London, England,,,another, in New York City…my son out for the night…I find myself alone with memories of past traditions and rituals, facing again the sense of being an individual in the world.  Memory bubbles, like those strung out above a comic strip character’s head, are filled with words like, “I remember when…I miss…We used to…”  If only you could know what a happy rich family life we had, carving the pumpkin with the face that my father always carved into ours back at home.  It didn’t matter that we moved every two years or so, there were experiences that we brought with us, wherever we settled.  And I brought them with me.

It’s been a difficult week.  We were pretty late last Thursday, getting down to the river for our walk at the off leash park.  I guess the breeds run in shifts, the larger guys showing up as the sun goes down…big guys with drool, jowls, thick jaws and strong-looking legs.  Max went skipping into that mix and for a short while it put a smile on my face.  While his ‘dad’ leaned on a fence and spoke on a cell phone, a broad shouldered pit bull took off running after Max in the tall grass.  Max, as per usual, wore a smile on ‘his’ face and I saw the tip of his tail, like a flag, bobbing up and down against the purple sky.  As I continued to hike north, eventually Max was able to pull himself out of the circle, and spew his way back in my direction.  A relief!

What didn’t go so well was an encounter as we headed back south along the river.  We were making our way through a stand of trees and dusk had arrived…colours were being absorbed by night and sound became more distinct…and travel seemed faster on foot than what it had seemed in the light.  From the woods, sped a large dark form…Max saw him coming from a distance and immediately sat next to me, completely submitting and afraid.  It was only seconds and the huge furry beast was upon him.  Max was being bitten, I knew it because he was crying out in loud yelps.  I had no choice but to stand back.

Calling out to the owner, I asked her to call her dog off, at which point, she made a weak effort, calling out, “Montana”.  It seemed like forever, for her to catch up to the collision and Max continued to cry.  As the owner walked by, with NO acknowledgement, Montana, withdrew and I stepped over to my pooch.  He was shaken, but seemed alright…no limping…just a very close rub up against his Mom and then he was, like a shot, heading for home!

I breathed a sigh of relief and once home, took Max into the warm light of the kitchen to do an all over inspection.  I was very relieved to find that all was well and so for the next six days, all WAS well.  However, on Wednesday, over my noon hour, I noticed a wet spot on Max’s hip…while he was somewhat protective of the area, I got a close look and saw that there was a gaping wound and I knew by his reaction that it was hurting.

Long story short: Max had surgery yesterday morning…debriding and stitching the wound…a course of antibiotics…a day of sedation.  Now we are in the midst of a 10 to 14 day blitz with the protective cone.  I took him down to one of ol’ Laurie-dog’s favourite spots tonight for his fresh air and he seemed to be just fine.  It’s just going to take both of us more patience, protecting the eight stitches that are needing time to heal on a very open part of his body!

Dr. Marty told us both, not only is it best for my skipping happy Maxwell to stay away from the off leash parks…but it’s likely equally as healthy for me to stay away from them as well.  The occasional dog is nasty and ill- tempered…they may be protective of a toy…an owner…or just NOT feeling well.  It only takes an instant for things to turn from good to bad…and so Max and I are going to find a ‘better place to be’ for our two hour evening-wander.

Tonight we will share the evening together, curling up with Friday night television and perhaps some time in the studio…and after the excitement of the week, this all seems fine to me. Blessings on your weekend, dear friends and Happy Halloween my special  family!  I think of everything you have been in my life…the happiness we have shared and I love you.