Hello my friends!
I was really struggling to find the right poem for this week. Everyone is facing such different challenges at the moment. Some of you must be exhausted from caring for the people around you; some of you are worried about your own health; many are faced with financial uncertainty. Everyone has been thrown a little off course, some more than others. I really hope you’re all holding up okay.
I was thinking also about the one character in my life who is remarkably unaffected by the whole situation: my dog, Tipu. Often I use my daily outing to walk with him in the local meadows. It is amazing to watch him get lost, again and again, in each new moment – in its smell, its taste, its particular colour. This he manages to do in the same meadows, often on the same route, day after day. What a guy. Watching him for a little while may not solve anything, but it is thoroughly absorbing.
Doty’s poem below is a thrilling rollercoaster through such a walk, told from the dog’s perspective. Poetry may not always be able to heal our wounds directly, but it can lift us out of our own heads for a few moments. Sometimes, that is enough.
Golden Retrievals, by Mark Doty
Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so.
Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who’s—oh
joy—actually scared. Sniff the wind, then
I’m off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing. And you?
Either you’re sunk in the past, half our walk,
thinking of what you never can bring back,
or else you’re off in some fog concerning
—tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work:
to unsnare time’s warp (and woof!), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark,
a Zen master’s bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.