You are still my best friend.
I wish it weren’t so.
I wish I could move on.
But I need you every day.
There was a simple pine box in my father’s office desk. The box, like the entire drawer, smelled from a small bag of pipe tobacco he kept there with a couple of used corncob pipes, cream rims brown from smoke. His other pipes, those of fine woods but not his favorites, hung from a metal rack on top of his desk.
His box contained a small, soft leather pouch the size of a plum, a few handwritten notes, a Saint Michael protection card printed with gold-ink, a tiny, faded photograph of his mother and a couple clip-on pins given in recognition of his community service. The pouch held a stone fox, the color of iron, with a piece of turquoise tied on top of its neck with a slim strip of leather. A note inside the pouch read, “Thank you, from the people of the Navajo Nation.” I found these things after he died.
By opening his desk, I learned that he, like I, had a secret place for talismans, superstitions.
It was strange to find this stone fox because a couple months earlier, I’d given him a small, stone grizzly, about the same size, also tarnished iron color, also from a Navajo artist. I bought it at a roadside shop in Southern Utah because it reminded me of him. Thick and strong bodied, it had a long nose, a slightly tilted head that made it appear to be listening, and penetrating, warm turquoise eyes. The grizzly fit perfectly in my palm. I could wrap my fingers around it, heat it up, fill it with life.
I placed it on my dad’s nightstand and it watched him die.
The grizzly is now my fox. He’s been with me for fifteen years. I keep him at my bedside wherever I sleep, wherever I go. When I’m most afraid, I clutch him in my hand, sometimes all night.
Perhaps because of the times we are living in, the ennui that has set in, the deep sadness I can’t shake, perhaps because all the suffering in the world hovers in the atmosphere like unbreathable pollution, for whatever reason, my grizzly has materialized, expanded to life-size.
He lumbers around my apartment, the scent of sweet pipe tobacco following him. Mostly though, he sleeps on the couch, cuddled into the pillows, sniffing the ocean air. He’s begun attracting winged creatures. Sunflower-colored seagulls, lizard dayglo green crows and persimmon and pomegranate songbirds. And the birds are attracting butterflies the color of pink and purple petunias.
I have felt so lonely, myself an extension of the long arm of time reaching around the curve of the earth into darkness. A dead silence rests heavy around my heart. My sustenance, the kindness of strangers, is gone.
Come here, sweet bear. Rest your head on my knee so I may look into your otherworldly eyes, touch your fur as soft as a Labrador’s, your velvet nose shortening the distance to the horizon. Let us wait for luck...when a songbird will sing for us, a butterfly will land on your head and you may feel the whisper of wind as fragile wings open and close, open and close, open and close and I may find peace in the gentleness of it all.
Not really a Biography
I have always been inclined to move forward, roll the stone, down, and often up, hills. I've tried to write through it all. Everything on this blog is written by me.