Hello again. It’s me, Ollie, James’ Old English Sheepdog – but those who’ve been here before knew that already.
Have you ever had anyone drop by you weren’t expecting? Did they sniff you in all the wrong places, and then did they start playing with your toys without asking? Or even worse, did they start acting like you were the guest and it was their home? No? Well neither have I.
But James has had an uninvited guest come to visit and stay. He has leukemia. Oh, it’s not what you might be thinking. I know, when I first heard he had it I thought only children get it, right? I mean, James is, after all, not a child. He may act like one sometimes, but… (Oh he stopped typing what I was saying – how rude). He hasn’t seen childhood in, oh, (now he won’t type anything I’m dictating – it doesn’t help when you have paws instead of fingers and have to rely on someone else to do the typing). Anyway, it’s an adult variety that people usually find they have around the age of 65. James wants me to let you know that he is not that young (there he goes again with typing young when I say old).
As I was saying, James didn’t invite this cancer into his life. It came all by itself, uninvited. He went through chemo during the last six months of 2013, and he wrote a blog about it on The Huffington Post called “Postcards from Lebanon” – the hospital where he had chemo is in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Kind of clever (and James gladly types that for me – oh, he gave me a treat for saying that one – yummy!).
Well, there are silver linings, or as I like to say, treats galore to these types of things that happen to us. That is if we are willing to see the opportunities through the fog, which James did (oh, yes, another treat for me – I’m on a roll). Not only did he write that blog, but he has written quite a number of poems along this topic. Of course, he calls them “death” poems, but he’s still alive (thank the good lord – yes, another treat, I’m scoring), so I call the uninvited guest cancer instead of death. It also, I thought, made a much better title than using the word “death.” I mean, how many of you would have bothered to read my blog if that was how I’d started it? (What? No more treats? You’ve got to be kidding me.)
Anyway, I wanted to share with you one of the poems James wrote after he found out he had leukemia. He figured that since he was going to die, and now he knew most likely how, that his life would be cut short.
THE SHORT CUT
From home to school and back again
It was one block up, two blocks over and another block down
Or a short cut through two yards and a field in-between
With Mrs. Outz forever on the lookout
Cutting through her backyard
Picking apples from a tree
Tap, tap, tap went her knuckles on the window pane
Flap, flap, flap went my sneakers on her putting green grass.
Majestic poplars lined the hilly portion of Woodland Street
It was flat by our house and then came the hill
My Schwinn ten-speed took me racing down this road
I decided too late to turn towards home
Running head first
Smacking into a stout trunk
Blacked out, passed out, and don’t remember
How I got from the curb to our living room sofa.
I auditioned for every theatrical production in our town
Was I or was I not the next Olivier
Some roles were practically luminary while others ornamental
Then came the part of Malcolm in Macbeth
Twisting my lines
Discovering stage fright
Stage left, stage right, an earlier exit
Than the blocking we had rehearsed required
The distance we travel sometimes appears overwhelming
With no quick remedy to assist in crossing the finish line
It takes motivation and steady, diligent training
Every day, morning and night
Swimming 2.4 miles
Biking 112 miles
To find the right pace to complete the race
With a run of 26.2 miles
On this side of the continuum time is relevant
As getting through, reaching the other side, is the aim
We are all listening, watching, waiting
Dependent upon you for aid; we are that bold
Asking for help
Looking for guidance
We will never really know during this existence
We will forever reach for that silver lining
From an abnormal direction on a path out of synch
My life moves ever onward, spiraling, reaching its completion
On a revised path via metamorphosed chromosomes
A shock to my bone marrow creating a cancer
Routing my body
Rutting internal organs
One could step off a curve, get hit by a bus
That’s not the short cut I’m taking.
When James and I go out walking, I don’t like it when he wants to take short cuts and hurry back home. He usually does that when it’s raining. He is such a wussy when it comes to the rain. But I love him anyway (and he said he loves me, too – but still no treat).
We hope you liked the poem. Oh, and be sure and let me know if you did, or if you have any questions for me (or for James).
Until next week,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)
Paw Prints courtesy of www.pawsitivelyloved.com
Photo credits requested but not received, please use with discretion
“The Short Cut” © 2015 James Stack