Three Songs in E for Mojo

I.    In the mouth of an all-black and white-tipped dog
The morning on the mountain she tried to run off with my son’s placenta, recently buried under a pine seed, by then breaded black with soil, flapping up and down with every joyful bound of her puppy feet, I knew she had come to teach me about loyalty. Not her loyalty to me, which comes so easily, but mine to her after the slap of her eating a part of me, an aged organ I grew to feed a baby. That it fed her, too, made me snap into two sticks of anger.  I kicked her twice. I’m ashamed to say it now. Please forgive me. I had been too proud. But by the end of my then twenty-ninth year, her first, I had listened to enough stories to know she was cousin to Coyote and Raven, had come to pull the solid, serious earth of my birth ritual out from under me and laugh.  She dug up the mossy dark belief I had grown to grow me, the need for my body to be holy, and showed me that even I am only meat.

II.    Living her last life as a dog, a mirror

Eight or fifty-six years later, mornings in a plains town before heading to work and from three children, missing mountains, lost in the high desert of my own cactus longings, I’d sit on a round cushion trying to be in my life and breathe.  Mojo, amber-eyed, would sit crooked on her bad hip, a foot away, look me unblinking in the eyes, black nose wetting mine, and breathe, waiting in her own longing. To eat. To pee. For my fingers to find her waxy silk ears and knead.

III.    Also, because I nearly always forget the plastic sack

Now, more and more, instead of sleeping we walk streets.  Not alleys, where goatheads pierce her feet. Not sidewalks, where she is prone to stop hard and fast, so suddenly, miraculously heavy over scent, a leaden shadow over the base of neighbors’ trees.  Mojo, please! Come! I lean on the leash, my need to move outweighing her need to smell stale pee.  The street keeps us focused on walking, her toes clicking me back and back to here, to my smiling pink tongued midnight on a black leash. Here, to this small tarred street under almost stars. Here, to this god who has fed me her heart for eleven, for seventy-seven years, a bit short of leg for an almost lab, as Bhanu said, but lovely.

2010

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