November 13 is the birthday of Igor, my last guide dog. It is a day to celebrate his short life as well as the diligent and loving lives of guide dogs everywhere. Please consider a donation to the fund I set up at the Animal Medical Center in honor of him and my first guide dog, Millennium.
I write to you, Stravinsky,
Because he, for whom you are named,
Is nowhere to be found.
You sit on my desk next to keepsakes
From his short life
And are easy to take care of,
Therefore easy to love.
Let me tell you how you came to occupy
This tiny exalted place…
Three days after I lost him
I cleaned mindlessly,
Brought out the vacuum and went to work.
Being blind helps forgetfulness:
Out of sight out of
I hit the aluminum dog bowls
And probably shrieked.
I picked up the two bowls
As if they might bite or squirm
And dropped them into recycling.
Then I went and cried in human arms.
In those arms,
Deep within my sobs,
I conceived a ritual from nowhere,
A rite of spring.
I want to go buy a plant tonight,
I will name it Stravinsky,
Spirit of Igor.
I picked out and washed the water bowl,
Set it on my desk,
Another empty vessel.
At the florist I asked for a plant
That was easy to take care of.
The woman named one
And I asked if it was viney.
She said No,
That one stood straight up like a tree,
A popular plant,
Recommended by some celebrity doctor
For its air purification properties.
I was not interested in pure air.
I wanted prehistoric leafy tendrils
Of encroaching flourishing
With minimal fuss.
Like all dark relationships,
Ours, Stravinsky, is complicated.
I might have hated plant life
Since green grass tempted him
And led him to swallow the neon vine
That stuck in his stomach
That led to the surgery
That sliced the tiny incision
That led to the microscopic sepsis
That led to the systemic failure
That led to the pneumonia
That gave final cause for his
Being nowhere to be found.
But I do not believe in fate
Or in the culpability of nature
Any more than I believe you to be
A fit substitute receptacle
For my I love yous.
I love you Stravinsky.
In his bowl I keep you
Healthy and happy.
It is easy to water
You every ten days,
Gratifying to have your reachy growth
On this simple expanse of desk.
Still, if you do not outlive me,
I doubt I will cry at all.
*This poem was first published at Quail Bell Magazine*