There’s this tough Navy guy Dwayne and his royal bulldog Henry who drop by the coffeeshop just about every day for a breakfast sandwich, wood pulp newspaper, community buzz and cuppa java. We go bananas for the king here, but he could give two shits about us.
Henry had an older, alpha sister, the imperial queen Victoria and although they made quite the stunning pair, he didn’t seem to care, except when she died and he got droopy, dragging his paws and ass for a while. I asked Dwayne about it because I’ve become pretty invested in Henry’s wellbeing. Whether he cares for me or not, I love him.
One year later last week, Dwayne adopted a baby bully Margaret, to love with them in their forever home. Maggie is only six weeks old, so exquisitely sweet and guileless, she can crack the hardest heart, and quite plainly, Dwayne’s is shattered. The day before he went to pick her up at the farm where she was bred, he got on his hands and knees, scouring and baby-proofing his apartment from top to bottom, happier than a cynical, life-worn man could ever hope to be. He’d been talking about a baby for a long time, and that sleepless night before her arrival, he posted a photo of Henry guarding her gleaming crate, and burst my heart with the humility of his words:
We are nothing special, but I love our little life.
I was telling this story to a pithy painting restorer from the UK over ginger tea at the coffeeshop, spreading the rush of joy while repeating Dwayne’s quiet rapture word-for-word; and the Brit proclaimed it reminded him of the opening line of a great, American poem, by the euphoric ee cummings:
I am a little church, (no great cathedral)
I looked it up and here’s more:
around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope, and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains
Dear ee, I breathed as I drank in his words. You nailed it.
I turn inward and ask: how can we possibly hold on to such simple pleasures? Can I keep this joy alive? Can you? Is it enough to sustain our weary hearts in the fight for equality and justice? In the fight for the health of our world?
Can the poetry of life and a newborn pup be enough?
We know the answer.
Special thanks and big ups to Dwayne Albert for his mesmerizing selfie, for being the greatest dog Dad and for letting me share.
GOOD NEWS FLASH: The Brit’s divine daughter Olivia, a canny coffeeshop regular gave me another surge: I carry your heart with me. What e says.
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