#2 Brutus at His Water Place



Brutus lies under the table as I write. His front paws are crossed. I check his back legs and, sure enough they are crossed as well almost yoga-style.He is big and bulky but graceful.

Brutus is a slow, slow walker unless we are heading for the water.Then, he trots before me, pulling me along versus how I usually have to pull him along behind me.  Down the street, across a small bridge and through the neighborhood is a street that ends at the water’s edge. I sit on the cement wall or on the large broken pieces of concrete, avoiding the pile of dark green, soaked seaweed–unless he finds a ball–and then I sink in, figuring I can dry my “walking” shoes in the sun on the patio.

He climbs down the crumbled pavement into the water and walks out until  water covers his belly, then he stops.  And  stands there… That’s the whole of his activity during our stay. He stands in the water gazing out into the bay, occasionally turning his big eyes back to check on me.  I imagine he stands there because he enjoys cooling his belly–this is Florida, after all and cold days are possible in January, but rare. Probably he loves all the scents of the bay. I know how seaweed smells, akin to rotting spinach, but I wonder how salt water smells. Does salt have a scent? Likely, Brutus would say it absolutely does and why would I even ask such a thing?

Sometimes, before he enters the bay to stand, he finds a tennis ball sitting in the seaweed bed, enjoys chewing for a while and then glance at me to tell me I should throw it. Now, I “hear ” him tell me he is ready for me to throw the ball. And, of course I do. He moves quickly– for Brutus–and charges into the water swimming for the ball.Here is one of those times I am sure of our communication. He speaks to me through his eyes. How does that work, I wonder? Why can we hear so much without using words? Certainly we do this with people also. We hear this way always with animals. I realize that another reason for my love of animals is the silence between us. It is companionable and void of all agendas. We can also experience this with people, but it is likely only in the most special relationships, and not a matter of course. Presence. Pure presence we offer to each other at those times with animal or human. Precious, rare presence.

Our culture is starting to acknowledge the communication abilities and intelligence of c of animals. I feel the shift  of attitude personally as I pay more attention to signals the dogs and cats send me via body language or eye contact, by barks or by mews. Even I, the animal lover all my life, followed the old school ignorance about animals before–‘he or she is just a dog, bird, cat, elephant…” Ugh. I am grateful we are waking up to understanding our fellow sentiment beings. St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, had it right, Buddhism has it right in its plea to not kill any living being.







Poem by Pablo Neruda

by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Martha’s Vineyard Atlantic Ocean(photo by Deb Hart)


My friend, Debbie Hart, lives on Martha’s Vineyard. We have started a new collaboration of  her photos and my writing.


A roar
then a hush
the wild Atlantic
the shore
with the abandon
of a tiger or a bear
charging across
a field
or a whale
breaking a wall of water.
This is what happens
in the Winter, in the cold Spring
before and after
tourists land on Martha’s Vineyard
from their city cages
their narrow gated lives.
to be home again
we all cry with joy
like seagulls.

After Publishing #2

I should have expected this, but it surprised me. My ego, my “self” that always needs approval is not satisfied that I found a publisher and actually had the book published. Ego is never satisfied.  Do more! It insists. Get more approval! If it could, it would force everyone it sees to buy the book. And like it, dammit! I know my ego well, having journeyed with it for many years now. I used to think it was me. I used to think it was a grown-up self, but it is just a child–after all, it acted like it knew everything and was just annoyed how others did not see that. I was following the lead of a deprived, confused child. Egos don’t grow up. Even if they have jobs and dive cars.

Addictions of all kinds and distorted perceptions keep us child-like. My ego is still grasping for approval; it’s painful to see that, but clear sight heals.  Shame is the ego embarrassed to be seen. I heard a wise teacher say we must be vigilant gate-keepers at the door of the mind and I see how easily the ego-child slips in without my noticing. A true grown-up  can discern what is true and false, is a protector of his or her own mind. A true grown-up might write a book, but doesn’t expect applause or results or recognition. The work is done. May it serve someone.