You Died, And Then I Understood

You Died, And Then I Understood Charlie Larson Walker

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. – Anatole France 

You Died, And Then I Understood

Copyright © 2019 by Alice Walker

Charlie Larson Walker/June 17, 2019/3:15 AM

You died in my arms, and yes,
My heart felt crushed.

Another dog, much younger than you,
Was frisking about
As dogs do.
I was annoyed. How dare she live
When you had died?

Of course she wanted to be friends.
Which I could not accept for crying.

At last she insisted
On befriending me
And leapt up on my bed
Where I only remembered
From years ago
That she’d peed.

Poor girl! She had herself
Escaped a town in China
And a Chinese cooking pot.
I did not think of this,
Frankly, I could not.
That is how humans are,
At least temporarily,
Walling ourselves off from pain;
Our own and that of others.

Hiding behind my stuffed elephant
She tried to make herself scarce
But I could feel her
Feeling with me.

How dare she!

You, the love of my life,
Had died.

She’d tried to play with you
The day before.   You’d barfed, then looked at her
With disgust.

Finally, I let myself peek at her,
Huddled behind the gray
Comfort elephant
That shared our bed
And I saw that her brown eyes
Were sending beams of love.

That’s when I got it:
Slow human being that I am.
That though you, my adored Charlie,
Have travelled on
To meet your next
The Universe in its goodness
Had provided me a lesson:

That dogs, like humans,
Come and go,
But the essence of dogs,
Dog-ness Itself-
Empathy and love –

That that is what changes form
And enlivens endless bodies
Of both animals and humans,
But never dies.

Which means, beloved,
(And Mommy is so glad!)
That you may go away forever
But never leave.