The Eye

A lonely turkey where thirty-five years ago I cried because the bull wouldn’t stop worrying my favorite cow. I remember the milkweed near the fence posts, where later I would go to study the jade chrysalis of the Monarch, amazed both by the color and the knowledge that inside was a butterfly. Time passes, or seems to, and we insist on remaining the common element. And yet the little voice whispers, Let go. Let go.

The older dog nearly died earlier this month, driving me to deep privacy but not silence. Came home on Easter to find him trembling, covered with his own waste, unable to walk. For two nights I slept in the yard with him, letting the frost wake me hourly so I could check to see if he had slipped over the bourne. I have all these ideas – and words – about death and most of the time I can be the wisest fool in the room when I talk about them, but those were long nights, and cold, and I am only just coming back.

Anyway, we buried a chicken this morning, out near the flowering Dogwood where so many chickens and ducks have gone over the years. Funny that last night I watched new parents walking past the house, dog on a leash and babies in stroller, and thought to myself of how much of parenting is just plain hard. Like sherpherding children through the death of their pets. How many animal funerals I have presided over through the years! But then today, Sophia interrupted the rambling sermon to ask for quiet and some time alone. Well, I have done something right, I thought, and rinsed the shovel and returned it to the garage.

I write that the common element of past (and future) is the self, which is nonsense of course. Or probably nonsense. What do I know? The other night I walked both dogs at two a.m., having surrendered to insomnia, and stood in the field watching a riot of stars overhead until I literally began to cry. Clarity of any kind eludes me, despite every effort. The dogs wandered back to find me on my knees, and nuzzled me the way dogs do when they’re worried. Later, in the yard, they wouldn’t leave my side but just sat nearby and together we watched the sun rise. It sounds peaceful, but it wasn’t. It was hard.

So Spring comes. I work, walk and puzzle over the same mysteries that I have always puzzled over, getting no nearer to an answer. This morning, out in the forest which smelled like rain, I watched beavers work the distant shoreline unaware of me – or perhaps indifferent – and recalled Meister Eckhart, here paraphrased, the eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me.

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