This poem was written about an event that occurred about three years ago, the beginning week that Gracie, our little seizure dog, died. Russ and I went to Race Point Beach on the Cape (Cape Cod for any non New Englanders) and let my two hounds run the beach. Race Point is about as far as one can get from anywhere, and seemed a good place for a run. There is also a rickety fence at the top of the dune which is not much of a deterrent, but seemed to help in this case. I am not sure if there were any fences on the beach itself, but the dogs did not run too far in any event. I think they just were thrilled to get to fly!
To be clear, I don’t advocate allowing dogs of any kind to run free, and I feel that this was a very foolish thing in retrospect. That being said, it was an amazing experience that I remember strongly enough three years later to write about. There is nothing like letting greyhounds really run, and the beach was as close to safe as I could come. I would probably never risk it again, but the experience was memorable. I also feel that Gracie got the touch of freedom her soul desired, and the tragedy of her passing later that week from a major seizure was somewhat lessened by it.
February Beach –Deborah Jarvis 3/12/13
On a February morning, down the Cape,
My friend Russ and I traveled with you, my hounds.
Tall and quiet, you, Whith, stood, refusing to lie down
As you watched the scenery through the windshield,
Your black body a firm obstruction in my rear view.
You, Gracie, smaller and striped like an autumn tiger,
Lay quietly enjoying the ride, phased by nothing,
But excited by the drive and the company nonetheless.
We traveled the length of the land, to the very tip.
Out to Race Point Beach, where the seagulls darted
And the wind played as we flip-flopped our way
Through the ice cold sand and the salt sea spray.
It was here that I dared to pursue the dreaded desire,
To let you run free upon the beach, without limit,
Without anyway to curb your unskilled freedom,
Or check your flight in anyway beyond voice or love.
I watched you, my hounds, as you leapt from my side.
Normally restrained by leash or fence, or inside walls
Your feet took wings to fly and soared you onwards,
Speeding along the winter beach, length by length,
And sailing you aloft to the top of the high dunes,
Almost, but not quite, out of sight and sound above.
You stopped, two lean hounds, falcons of fur,
Peering down at my poor, grounded and heavy soul.
My fear of your flight, yet desire for it, was akin,
I thought, to what a falconer must feel each time
He looses his bird into the air, trusting a bond
Based on mutual trust; that his companion will
Return to him once again from the dizzying heights.
For a long moment, you stood immune to my call, my
And rising panic; the knots in my stomach increasing,
And making it hard to breath until…
…You turn, like dulcet doves, and flutter back to me,
As calm as the wild wind now tamed to my hand.
Once more gently grounded, once more on earth,
No longer in flight, you are happy and safe again,
Tongues lolling, eyes bright, and coats gleaming over
Iron framework and soft, elastic, muscled flesh.
A masterpiece of man’s hand and God’s design;
A torrent, a whirlwind, and a storm finally at rest.
The whole way home, you both sleep. Small wonder!
Your soft sighs and twitching paws tell me that
Even though you are safe home again, your souls
Still fly on the beach. In your restless dreams,
You are dogs-of-air, not tied to the earth, but free
From all earthly cares, the wind rushing through
Your swept-back ears, your eyes bright on the horizon,
And your hearts bursting to run to the end of creation.