text mode CrossConnect previous next

Issue Contents
E-mail Us
   w h y    d o g s    i n g e s t    a n y t h i n g    w h i l e    t h e    h u m a n    m o u t h    r e m a i n s    s o    s e n t i m e n t a l

--- T I M O T H Y   B R A D F O R D

Things I've seen dogs eat: dog food, squirrels, cats, grass,
side of a 1972 GMC truck, Heart of Understanding by
Thich Nhat Hahn, Scooby snacks, dirt, fast food (including
most of bag), horse shit, cow shit, human shit,
other dogs, a bloated human corpse on the banks
of the river Ganges.

Twelve thousand years ago, in a site near Jerusalem, a man was laid in a grave, right hand cradling a dog.

Who has not at least slept in the same room as those with the most omnivorous mouths?

2. My older son teaches my younger son to pray— These are your eyes and these are your arms and these are your ears and these are your legs. Part of a prayer that was said much earlier— Wolf, don't eat my eyes and Wolf, don't eat my arms, then Dog, don't eat my legs and Dog, don't eat my nose. Part of a prayer to be said much later— Sir, don't torch my ear, God, don't eat my eyes, Work, don't eat my arms, Lady, not my legs.

I, being Buddhist, don't believe in prayer to save one's skin, despite the shape I'm in— eaten by my work clothes, eaten by my school clothes, eaten by the horses who live in the yard, eaten by the Maenads, eaten by my TV, eaten by my own two sons who learn to pray. And the gods in the yard and the woman at school and the books on the shelf and the kitchen knife, too. Eaten, eaten, eaten, eaten, eaten, eaten, eaten up.

Rimpoche, I warn you seriously. I have some medical knowledge; your disciple may be driven to madness by the terror he experiences. He really appeared to feel himself being eaten alive.

No doubt he is, but he does not understand that he himself is the eater.

3. You be the dog and I'll be the catcher. No, I'll be the catcher and you be the dog. The catcher. The dog. The catcher. The dog. Remember, the catcher always gets it in the end. The dog always gets it in the end. Well, the catcher first . . . And the dog in the end. Definitely the dog. Definitely in the end. But first a surprise, a growl, bared teeth, a lunge to scratch or bite! So you will be the dog. Maybe the dog and maybe the wolf. You won't know till you're in my teeth. Not a chance. I'm too careful. The chase makes one careless. No way, I'm too aware. The fur makes one awareless. Careless, awareless, the dog always gets it in the end. Not till the very final, very last, very breath, on the leash and wearing muzzle very last end.

4. Do we have such horrors inside our body?

Nothing was horrible about the beginning: my pack flowed around me like dancers at a party, the sun lulled in the trees, the dry heat of the day not yet on. My bow was taut, my step, light, as if all those years of hunting either fell from me or buoyed me—I was other than myself. Instinct led me up an unknown slope to a miraculous grove radiating like the sun itself. The moist sounds of panting and licking died down as my pack fell in around me. We stepped nearly in time, breathed the same rhythm. And from the edge of the grove, in water like silver—what to say about what I saw because you know the story, know her body pulsed perfect on my vision like a white heat mirage. What is not spoken of, and seldom imagined, is the more perfect vision I had that last day. Unmuddied by self-consciousness, I, now another, hairier, swifter animal, watched closely, meditatively, as my own sharp-toothed hounds flayed the skin from my muscles, bared the miracle of fasciae and nerve from inside my body with their generous, ungentle mouths, and I saw for the first time, and for the last, the network of optimism I was.

© crossconnect, inc 1995-2006 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |