I sit and read in a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, my dog sleeping at my feet. The two of us are alone. When I stand to get something from the kitchen or to use the bathroom, he slowly gets up to follow me, only to return to his original curled up spot here when I return. I suspect that he senses something has gone wrong inside him and that I am his best bet for righting the matter.
But, there is nothing I can do for him – he is slowly dying from a bad heart. I think of him as a leaf falling in the wind: sometimes he is lifted upward, but overall, inevitably, he is headed down toward his flight’s end. For the last several days, including yesterday, he had been lifted upwards. On lifting-up days, I forget he is dying. Today he is falling and I am reintroduced to my sorrow yet again. On falling days, I never know whether there will be anymore lifting-up days for him (and for me as well, I suppose).
We had rented this place to be with my daughters’ families for the weekend. My youngest has since returned home with her husband. My wife and my oldest daughter’s family have gone off for a hike on a nearby mountain. I would have liked to accompany them, but I could see that my dog would not be able to walk any distance, and I felt uncomfortable leaving him here by himself. You might say I worry too much about him, but that’s just the way it is, and I can’t change that. So, I’m going to sit here with him today as long as I can in case this is the day he lands and Death comes to lift him up and take him from me. It is the right thing to do, and I hope someone will sit watch with me when I begin my own descent.
Sunrise is an hour away, though the sun won’t be seen by anyone in or around St. Augustine Harbor this morning: the incoming fog will see to that. The crews of the moored boats will slumber below decks longer than usual while the watery air muffles the usual a.m. sounds.
The Nasty Habit’s engine revs, then idles, then coughs and revs again, her captain endeavoring to keep her from drifting back into the inlet as he waits for the Bridge of Lion’s master to raise the bridge’s central section. The boat’s belly is fat with shrimp, both more so and sooner than most days, so she is heading home early, sated. The crew, to a man, is sharp awake and diligent in their duties, though each steals a look toward the buildings along the quay to the far side of the bridge, and each constructs his own day’s promise.
The old man saw first that the nearest boat was for sale, even through the confines of his camera’s viewfinder, even through the fog, even through the sunless grey of early dawn. And, though he was of insufficient funds, and of strength (and of remaining time), he struggled to make out the contact number.
Seduced by the promise of a rising sun in the east,
The brief pastel, mist-clothed morning eluded her.
Mathew and his sister, Sea
Sailed up the coast to visit me.
Below the ramparts there the canon will belch fire,
And thunderous blasts bellow across the bay.
Black powder clouds will swirl in blue sky,
And perfume a passing breeze with adventure.
As the sun rises over these pyramids,
Does it warm the fourteen hundred below
And rouse them from their collective sleep?
Crowded there, do some still swap tales of the Seminole
And debate the merits of their cause?
Do some bow their heads in prayer? Do some weep?