Long Road, Short Legs
When the road
And your legs
You might end up
The plus side is
You’re wiser now
(Sometimes, the poet within wins. To read all his verse, click on the logo to the left.)
For days the good old bitch had been dying, her back
pinched down to the spine and arched to ease the pain,
her kidneys dry, her muzzle white. At last
I took a shovel into the woods and dug her grave
in preparation for the certain. She came along,
which I had not expected. Still, the children gone,
such expeditions were rare, and the dog,
spayed early, knew no nonhuman word for love.
She made her stiff legs trot and let her bent tail wag.
We found a spot we liked, where the pines met the
The sun warmed her fur as she dozed and I dug;
I carved her a safe place while she protected me.
I measured her length with the shovel’s long handle;
she perked in amusement, and sniffed the heaped-up
Back down at the house, she seemed friskier,
but gagged, eating. We called the vet a few days later.
They were old friends. She held up a paw, and he
injected a violet fluid. She swooned on the lawn;
we watched her breathing quickly slow and cease.
In a wheelbarrow up to the hole, her warm fur shone.
The poem above, Another Dog’s Death, (from Collected Poems, 1953-1993) is one of two John Updike wrote about the death of his dogs.
Updike, a prolific, Pulitzer-prize winning author and poet, died yesterday at 76 of lung cancer.
The play is based on Paul Auster’s 1999 novel “Timbuktu,” a dog-narrated tale of a hobo poet and his canine companion, Mr. Bones, whose wanderings come to an end in Baltimore. (Auster was profiled in Salon about seven years ago.)
The Croation production, directed by Borut Separovic, premiered in Zagreb earlier this month.
The director cast a dozen strays from a Zagreb animal shelter, with the main role of “Kosta” (Mr. Bones) played by Cap, an eight-year-old champion border collie.
The play consists mainly of a 45-minute monologue by Mr. Bones, with narration provided by an actor from his chair in the audience. Mr. Bones, according to an AFP article, receives quiet orders from instructor Alen Marekovic in the front row as he recounts the story of his life with his deceased master Willy.
“It’s a story that emphasises the incredible love between a dog and his master, a homeless person,” Separovic told AFP.
“Timbuktu offers a therapeutic insight into how not to interpret democracy solely through rights, but also through responsibly and solidarity towards others.”
At one point, the 12 stray dogs come on stage, a net falls between them and the audience and the play switches to the style of a documentary. The narrator tells the audience: “These dogs have a story which resembles that of Kosta’s. We call on you to provide them a home. You can contact me after the show.”
“For me it was extremely important that real, abandoned dogs appear in the play and be given a chance to be adopted,” said Separovic.
Separovic stressed the play also aimed at focussing attention on the fate of homeless people, 12 of whom play a role from the audience.
The team hopes that all the stray dogs involved will be adopted during the 11 performances in October.
Separovic said he set out to enlighten audiences through the project, which he says he created for his 10-year-old daughter Katarina and dedicated to his 13-year-old black labrador Max.
“I would like young people to understand that it’s important to take care of others, those who are in a worse situation then we are,” he said.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 21st, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal shelter, baltimore, borut separovic, croatia, dog, hobo, homeless, homelessness, kosta, mr. bones, novel, paul auster, play, poet, production, stray dogs, timbuktu, zagreb