I walk Zeke outside.
He sniffs at the grass, at the plants, at the trace of bunny in the air.
I watch him circle the yard: It’s gone.
The vigorous flourish of the tail. The accelerated gait, his canter. All gone. In its place, the all-consuming lethargy.
The panting is incessant. His barrel chest rising and falling, a steam engine chugging, The Little Red Engine That Could: I think I can, I think I can, I think I still can.
He’s parched, always. His long tongue stretches to lap up gulps of water.
And Dad, “I’m hungry. I’m always hungry. I can’t help myself. It’s those damn white pills you wrap in the lunch meat.”
The steroid dosage has been lowered, his normal surefootedness slipping. Another stumble up the stairs this morning, his head lunging into the hardwood –and then, a soft, helpless yelp.
Water from a tap drips.
No one is ready for this. No one wants this.
This shot clock is running out.
Related Posts: Zeke
I love to feel as if I’m just another body, a breather along with the others:
blackbirds taking sips of air, garter snakes
lapping it up with their split tongues,
and all those plants
that open and close and throw up streamers of oxygen:
maybe that cottonwood that tilts across the creekbed
is the very one that just sucked up carbon dioxide
and let me breathe, maybe I should hang a card around it,
Thank you for the next two minutes of my life,
maybe some of the air I just swallowed used to be inside the hot larynx of a fox,
or the bill of an ash-throated flycatcher,
maybe it just coursed past
the scales of a lizard–a bluebelly –
as he wrapped himself around his mate,
maybe he took an extra breath and let it out
and that’s the one I got.
Maybe all of us are standing side by side on the earth
our chests moving up and down,
every single one of us, opening a window,
loosening a belt, unzipping a pair of pants to let our bellies swell,
while in the pond a water beetle
clips a bubble of air to its shell and comes back up for another.
You want sanitary? Go to some other planet:
I’m breathing the same air as the drunk Southerner,
the one who rolls cigarettes with stained yellow thumbs
on the bench in the train station,
I’m breathing the same air as the Siamese twins
at the circus, their heads talking to each other,
quarreling about what they want to do with their one pair of hands
and their one heart.
Tires have run over this air,
it’s passed right over the stiff hair of jackrabbits and road kill,
drifted through clouds of algae and cumulus,
passed through airplane propellers, jetprops,
blades of helicopters,
through spiderlings that balloon over the Tetons,
through sudden masses of smoke and sulfur,
the bleared Buick filled with smoke
from the Lucky Strikes my mother lit, one after another.
Though, as a child, I tried my best not to breathe,
I wanted to take only the faintest sips,
just enough to keep the sponges inside,
all the lung sacs, rising and falling.
I have never noticed it enough,
this colorless stuff I can’t see,
circulated by fans, pumped into tires,
sullenly exploding into bubbles of marsh gas,
while the man on the gurney drags it in and out of his lungs
until it leaves his corpse and floats past doorknobs
and gets trapped in an ice cube, dropped into a glass.
After all, we’re just hanging out here in our sneakers
or hooves or talons, gripping a branch, or thudding against the sidewalk:
as I hold onto my lover
and both of us breathe in the smell of wire screens on the windows
and the odor of buckeye.
This isn’t to say I haven’t had trouble breathing, I have:
sometimes I have to pull the car over and roll down the window,
and take in air, I have to remember I’m an animal,
I have to breathe with the other breathers,
even the stars breathe, even the soil,
even the sun is breathing up there,
all that helium and oxygen,
all those gases blowing and shredding into the solar wind.
“A 5-year-old in Maine has an inseparable bond with her duck. Not a toy duck – a real, live duck. She believes she is the duck’s mom, and vice versa.”
Ask no guarantees, ask for no security,
there never was such an animal.
And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth
which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away.
To hell with that,
shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.
~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451: A Novel
- Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
- Photo: Taken by Dave Schreier. Sloth photo taken near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon.
- Don’t Miss Related Posts: Ray Bradbury
“Yoga sensation Rachel Brathen (aka Yoga Girl) has inspired others to grab a yoga mat and get going—including her baby goat Penny Lane! Last Christmas, Brathen received the adorable creature as a present from her husband. Together, they’re dedicated to running an animal rescue. “All she wants to do is sit on our laps and watch TV and climb things … and chill on the couch looking cool with her underbite,” writes Brathen, referring to Penny Lane.”
Don’t miss the full story and additional photographs here: My Modern Met
Source: Baby Hippo kissing Mama via themetapicture.com. (Thank you Susan)
I had to validate. I did. See water.usgs.gov for fact check.
And this “theme” has been top of mind following a passage I read in Elizabeth Strout’s new book:
I asked if my brother had a job. “He has no job,” my mother said. “He spends the night with any animal that will be killed the next day.” I asked her what she had said, and she repeated what she had said. She added, “He goes into the Pedersons’ barn, and he sleeps next to the pigs that will be taken to slaughter.”
~ Elizabeth Strout, My Name Is Lucy Barton