Sunday, February 21, 2010


This is Carly. She and Molly decorate the paddock. I didn't always neglect my horses; before having children I groomed them fairly often, rode them occasionally, and even spent time lounging on the big rock in the field while they munched their hay and snorted at mosquitoes. Now, though, I feel proud that I remember to feed them three times a day. My life is bigger than it was nine years ago when Carly came to live with us. There are children, other animals, hours of indoor work. I still like to glance out the sliding glass door and see her at the fence, though. I like knowing that even if I forget the time, she'll remind me with a disapproving glare that she is due her dinner. And her hair - chestnut hair that stays shiny even in the face of benign neglect - is still soft against my cheek when I stand a moment next to her, out in the paddock.

Reading Schoemperlen's "At a Loss for Words" this week I came across this Mary Oliver quote. "You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves." The main character emails this particular poem not once but twice to her beloved. She so desperately wants him to love her, and most of their relationship takes place online. Occasionally they meet, but only when they happen to be in the same city on business. I wonder how anyone, fictional characters included, could live their lives that way? How awful not to be able to touch and be touched by the one you love. Hand holding, lips brushing, arms encircling - they recharge me, keep me going. Yet the cure for stress, grief, or sheer exhaustion has always been the soft fur of a bunny, kitty or dog. Somehow they always seem to know when you need them most.

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