Goodbye Matz, My Friend


I've never written haiku poems, but here is one I feel like writing now: 

Eyes suddenly old.
Minutes in creeping disguise.
I’m losing my dog. 

For just over a year I’ve had a great gift: an old golden retriever I got at the rural post office near where I live. He was skinny, matted, filthy, and covered in hundreds of ticks. He had ticks clinging to his eyelids. He had ticks and thorns embedded between his toes. A big ugly cyst hung off of his side like a tennis ball with fur. Surprisingly, he had also a registered microchip implanted between his shoulder blades. But, no, the owners did not need to have him back. Yes, they had driven around looking for him a few times. He had been gone for, oh, two weeks or so. Not sure. He didn’t like staying at home. 

He has been beside my desk for four hundred and fifty-four days, often with his paws crossed and his head held at a high proud angle, like a gentleman in a fine tweed suit waiting at a train station. I know exactly how many days, because he came into my life on June third, which would have been the birthday of my beloved collie, Bells. She died of cancer four months before I found him, desperately soliciting post office patrons for a new home. I imagined he was her gift to me and thanked her spirit. I intended to take a photo of him and put it among framed pictures of people along the bookshelves in the study. Then, as you walked through with your glass of wine, in the mild curiosity of a dinner guest, you might have thought at first glance that he was my Uncle Bruce or an elderly cousin. But you’d have done a double take and said to yourself, “No, wait. That’s a dog!” 

He went very quickly yesterday from the bouncy dog-of-a-hundred-expressions, who could easily outrun me, to a dog who limped sad eyed and in congestive heart failure from the emergency vet clinic. A dog with maybe three months to live, and who might never again lie beside me in quiet dignity while I work. 

To bring the subject of friendship into this blog and wrap up (since I can no longer see), I’ll resort again to butchered haiku. It seems fittingly brief and abrupt, like life itself seems to me brief and abrupt. No frilly rhymes — five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables — a total of seventeen allowed to make a point:

Have you lost a friend
Gone long as a dog’s short life?
Call, write … time passes.