Thursday, January 11, 2007

"A Dog Has Died"

10 December 1994 -- 23 December 2006

"A Dog Has Died"
--Pablo Neruda
My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.
No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.
Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together
on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.
Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy of their shameless spirit.
There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.
So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

* *
Over the holiday break, we lost our lovely, loving, joyful, darling dog. We have been sad, sad, sad, and I've avoided posting because I knew this was the post that would have to come first. And I know that I'll have to update the profile on the side, and that I cannot bear to do yet. He was truly a legend, as evidenced by the many wonderful stories that everyone who met him has of him. Indeed, the thing he knew best to do--besides loving us and bringing us great joy--was how to leave an impression. It's so hard to comprehend: how a being that made your life so full and lively can suddenly be no more. Of course, he is with us always, but he isn't--the house is so still. I know that it will fill up again some day, with time, but for now, we softly say: "Rest in peace, dear M."

[My apologies on the terrible formatting of this post. I could not (despite much grappling with Blogger) get the line breaks in Neruda's poem to show up at the correct place because when I did, the photos then moved about crazily or were lost altogether.]