Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Dog's Love (for his owner)

(Suck It!, 2009)

My first dog's name is Tumbler, he was clumsy and often stumped his paw on this corner of furnishing or that leg of that furnishing. He got excited every time I came home from school, he jumps, he barks, he tries to bite my fingers, tries to bite them softly; just enough to tell me with the slightest pain that he is really happy I am home. And it is nice to be home with him, he loved me like no one else. He has knocked over enough of my mother's china to build a broken bridge to China, and he gets it from my mother. He tries to learn only to fail and do it all over again. My mother continues to put her China out on display, with a new cabinet every so often with hopes this one is the one and only she'll ever need to protect what is dear to her. But all of her memories of fancy luncheons and her travel souvenirs are lost when Tumbler's get lost in excitement leaving substitutes of how things once were.
It is a dog's love I tell my mother, but she knows best, he is a good but bad dog, and tries hard to listen and do, but fails to keep her memories unbroken, and he would show more remorse if he wasn't so happy. My father doesn't bother with Tumbler, he has The General, an old german shepherd that has gone on every hunting trip my father has gone on in his adult life. The General sees my Tumbler as young-and-dumb I'm sure, but there's enough respect there to keep them living under the same roof.

Tumbler died in the coldest winter I could remember, and it was a day I felt a deep sense of something leave me. I still don't know quite what that was, but there is a deep and sharp hole in the middle of my chest, and it is the color of dark red against white snow. My mother had enough I'm sure, I was old enough to take care of my dog, and when Tumbler being Tumbler excited as his puppy days knocked over the one and only cabinet, breaking the remains of her china and the memories they served, killing the cat, Stanford, and almost hitting my baby brother, Jeremiah, enough was enough. I wasn't home of course, and in a way, it was easier, and I feel guilty. I feel guilty for a few more things while I'm talking of guilt, and then I think of today, how it has been three years since, and I feel guilty moving on, and often forgetting the name and memory of Tumbler in the last years of grade school, and the world becoming a much different place than I had thought as each Spring is marked by the sound of birds returning and the new leaves on the oak trees that line the walk from home to school, and school to home, and over again.
My father doesn't talk much of him walking the dog in last few steps, and how it was surprisely not hard to lose the dog far enough to aim and fire. Or how Tumbler just sat there, confused, longing for his owner to return, and for a moment he was graceful like a watch-maker fitting one tiny gear in perfect place to fit another even tinier gear so that everything around it will function in perfect harmony until everything becomes rust.

I try hard not to be clumsy, I try hard to speak clearly, and to not to get so excited. I try hard not be a mess, but the truth is you drive me crazy.

1 comment:

Karen said...

this breaks my heart.