Charlie

one spring day,
not this one,
i took sweet Charlie to the vet
for the last time;
a small thing
we all do,
eventually,

she was special,
my Charlie,
who arrived to a Bad Marriage
and was Love incarnate,
letting toddlers pull her lips
and try to ride her…
so loved we got a second dog,
her younger sister…
running away in her older years
because she was deaf
and my voice no longer
penetrated her obsession
with food,

and then,
then…
old, and sick,
she was caught in the middle
of The End,

a marriage marinated in alcohol
battles for custody
manipulations grand and microscopic
and one little dog,
rheumy-eyed and stinking,
slowly dying,

until that day,
four-year-old crying
“mama kicks Charlie”
the usual denials,
the lack of proof,
my heart,
shattered,

i remembered all the times
in denial,
i had heard X muttering drunkenly
in the kitchen,
“i hate these damn dogs”
Charlie, as ever,
underfoot when food was at hand,

Charlie’s sister died of cancer;
a long process
of peeing blood and incontinence
doggy diapers
specialist visits
iv’s and needle aspirations
painful and, in the end
for nothing,

then, one year later,
in the middle of a war zone
Charlie started peeing blood
she became incontinent
“mama kicks Charlie,”
a small voice telling
a big truth,

when my week came
i took my little boys in my arms
and told them Charlie was sick
and soon would go to see her sister
they cried
they accepted
as children do,

i split my heart in two
one half strong and capable,
taking my sweet Charlie one last time
to the park,
the other half climbing a high tower
in an unfamiliar castle,
searching for a way
to survive,

i found a homing pigeon,
waiting atop the tower,
head cocked in perpetual question,
eye blinking at me

i had never sent a message
by pigeon,
but this pigeon seemed capable enough
so i pulled a red crayon from my pocket
and drew half a heart
on a bit of gum wrapper,
rolled it into a tiny scroll,
and placed it on the castle wall,

the pigeon took my burden
and spoke to me,
which also did not seem strange,
“i will find you in the future,
and bring your message home”

with the relief of feeling only half the pain,
Charlie and i made the final journey
where i dropped her off at the door
and did not accompany her
just a quick kiss,
and “see you later my little love,”
knowing i would not,

time passed
the divorce was finalized
life moved on
became more stable
the kids became happier,
and by some miracle
i found love,

perhaps it is five years to the day
but my mind won’t remember it
so i couldn’t say for sure
but last night,
i awoke to the sound of tapping,
and there was the pigeon,
head cocked,
waiting at my window,

she had come home to roost
bearing my broken heart
across time,
writ in crayon
on old gum wrapper
precious only to me,
i took the message in shaking hands
and cried,
feeling the full weight of guilt
and regret,
why had i not gone with Charlie,
to the end?

i understood at last
that survival sometimes requires
imperfect solutions;
Charlie, stoic as she was,
would forgive me,
and at some point,
soon,
i will forgive myself.

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

notes to my sons

Children

October 19th, 2014

I search the horizon,
Scanning northeast past
the Don Valley,
See two red lights marking a hill
In the general direction of you
My boys
It is Sunday morning
4am
You are 26 km away
From where I sleep tonight;
The fastest route up the Parkway
Zipping eastward on the 401
A quick jaunt south on McCowen
I could perhaps sneak in
And creep to your bedsides
Rub your sweaty hair
And whisper in your ears
“Mommy loves you”
I hope your dreams are sweet,
Your souls resting free
Of the despair I feel
Knowing that you might need me
And I cannot be there.
My children,
I wish you the self-centred joy
Of a happy childhood
Untethered by longing and regret.
I will her to be good enough
To love you as I do,
To put your needs before her own
To put down the vodka
To really work to support you
To be the parent you need her to be.
But even then, I know
That one day you will see
What now you are too young to know.
And I hope you will forgive me
For being forced into this split life;
I hope this way is best for you
Though it breaks my heart.
I feel you tonight
Plain as if you were calling me
From the other room.
I want you to know
When you call,
My heart hears
But I cannot respond
Except with these words:
My children
I love you
To the far reaches
Of the very last star
And back.
I will love you always
And forever,
From the moment you first took shape in my womb
Until my last breath on this earth
And into the unknown beyond
Your joy is my joy
Your pain is my pain
You are so special
My gifts to the world
My boys.

1sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2014

For the alcoholic in all our lives 

Even here in the warmth
And moist baked-bread scent of home
The rancid creeping tendrils
Encroach from that wrecked life.
A portal opens
A peep-hole;
I see you now
But in the seeing mourn
The stranger I thought I knew.
Worthless words
Forming exclamation bubbles
Over an ingenuous smile,
“I am sober now.”
Sure.
Like all the times before.

1sagefemme © All rights reserved 2015