Charlie

one spring day,
not this one,
i took sweet Charlie to the vet
for the last time;
a small thing
we all do,
eventually,

she was special,
my Charlie,
who arrived to a Bad Marriage
and was Love incarnate,
letting toddlers pull her lips
and try to ride her…
so loved we got a second dog,
her younger sister…
running away in her older years
because she was deaf
and my voice no longer
penetrated her obsession
with food,

and then,
then…
old, and sick,
she was caught in the middle
of The End,

a marriage marinated in alcohol
battles for custody
manipulations grand and microscopic
and one little dog,
rheumy-eyed and stinking,
slowly dying,

until that day,
four-year-old crying
“mama kicks Charlie”
the usual denials,
the lack of proof,
my heart,
shattered,

i remembered all the times
in denial,
i had heard X muttering drunkenly
in the kitchen,
“i hate these damn dogs”
Charlie, as ever,
underfoot when food was at hand,

Charlie’s sister died of cancer;
a long process
of peeing blood and incontinence
doggy diapers
specialist visits
iv’s and needle aspirations
painful and, in the end
for nothing,

then, one year later,
in the middle of a war zone
Charlie started peeing blood
she became incontinent
“mama kicks Charlie,”
a small voice telling
a big truth,

when my week came
i took my little boys in my arms
and told them Charlie was sick
and soon would go to see her sister
they cried
they accepted
as children do,

i split my heart in two
one half strong and capable,
taking my sweet Charlie one last time
to the park,
the other half climbing a high tower
in an unfamiliar castle,
searching for a way
to survive,

i found a homing pigeon,
waiting atop the tower,
head cocked in perpetual question,
eye blinking at me

i had never sent a message
by pigeon,
but this pigeon seemed capable enough
so i pulled a red crayon from my pocket
and drew half a heart
on a bit of gum wrapper,
rolled it into a tiny scroll,
and placed it on the castle wall,

the pigeon took my burden
and spoke to me,
which also did not seem strange,
“i will find you in the future,
and bring your message home”

with the relief of feeling only half the pain,
Charlie and i made the final journey
where i dropped her off at the door
and did not accompany her
just a quick kiss,
and “see you later my little love,”
knowing i would not,

time passed
the divorce was finalized
life moved on
became more stable
the kids became happier,
and by some miracle
i found love,

perhaps it is five years to the day
but my mind won’t remember it
so i couldn’t say for sure
but last night,
i awoke to the sound of tapping,
and there was the pigeon,
head cocked,
waiting at my window,

she had come home to roost
bearing my broken heart
across time,
writ in crayon
on old gum wrapper
precious only to me,
i took the message in shaking hands
and cried,
feeling the full weight of guilt
and regret,
why had i not gone with Charlie,
to the end?

i understood at last
that survival sometimes requires
imperfect solutions;
Charlie, stoic as she was,
would forgive me,
and at some point,
soon,
i will forgive myself.

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

4 thoughts on “Charlie

  1. So tender and raw, the love of fur babies. The Charlies are guardian angels in our lives and I have such a strong sense that Charlie knew how loved he was and still is. Sweet grief, be still and healing. Thank you for sharing such beautiful and painful words…they touched my heart and reminded me of my own Charlie (his name was Jetson and he was a Labrador)

    Liked by 1 person

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