By Brian MacDonald
Made using Caroline Crawford’s poem (below) as inspiration
By Caroline Crawford
Meaning he sticks around where he knows he’ll be fed.
He sleeps in the same place every night.
He goes for a walk. Looks for something new to sniff.
Returns home without thinking about where home is. He knows the route by instinct.
Or, more likely, by memory.
He doesn’t say much.
Sometimes you see his eyes looking far away.
But you say his name, ask him what he’s thinking about,
And he looks surprised, and then benignly indifferent.
Then he settles down and takes a nap.
Dogs don’t drive.
So if it weren’t for his ability with the car keys
The way he can put the Ford in gear and head out
To the hardware store, the diner, the golf course, the errand
that could take 10 minutes and instead takes a good part of the afternoon
It might be easy to forget that he isn’t
Bred for a purpose
Although that purpose may have be lost in the generations before him.
So now he wants to hunt, and point, and retrieve and return
Although he doesn’t know exactly why.
A faithful companion
If faithful means
But watch him run in his dreams
Hear him bark and whimper while he sleeps.
He wants to be off leash for good.
He knows his name and answers your call.
He’ll show up if you say, “Come.”
He’ll stay if you say, “Stay.”
And he’ll go if you say, “Go,”
But he might not look back over his shoulder
As he walks away.
Untitled Baby on Table
By Brian MacDonald
Inspiration piece provided to Caroline Crawford
By Caroline Crawford
Asher flexed his fingers as he prepared to retie his tie. It was a new one that Sophie had bought him for tonight, suggesting that the departmental party celebrating his appointment as the Hartson Endowed Chair of the physics department would be a good time for him to dress a little more… what was that ridiculous term she’d used? Metrosexually?
He wrapped the thick, smooth dark purple silk around his neck again–it hadn’t knotted right the first time–and wondered what kind of statement about his sexuality could possibly be relayed from a tie. A metrosexual sounded like a man who got aroused from riding the subway. He was just a typical heterosexual whose ability to score a second wife 20 years younger and 20 times more attractive than his first he chalked up to his wit, his intelligence and his still-flat abs, not his ability to choose a tie.
Sophie walked back into their bedroom, her long legs encased in tight black jeans, a bright pink sweater stretched taut across her narrow shoulders. She was twisting her dark hair up with one hand.
“Asher, you look totally cool,” she said, smiling. “Just great.”
Asher looked back in the mirror. His thick white hair grazed the collar of his dark gray shirt (part of the metrosexual ensemble), but when he grinned at himself he agreed that, for 52, he could still claim a shred of cool. He was still fit, and stood up straight. But damn, he was tired.
That he could blame on Solomon, though.
“What time is Kate coming?” Asher asked. If the sitter was late, he’d be late to his own award party which would be second only to being late to his wedding. Or his funeral.
“Kate?” asked Sophie. “Kate’s not coming. We’re bringing Sol with us.” Sophie spoke so matter-of-factly that Asher wondered for a minute if he’d somehow known this all along.
But, no. Why would he be bringing his four-month-old son to the home of the dean of the school of science? Sol was a baby. Babies don’t belong at academic parties. It was almost 7 o’clock already, and that was Sol’s supposed bedtime, although the way he carried on for hours on end each night, he certainly didn’t seem to know it.
Besides, Lia was going to be there, smiling at her father’s success. With her husband. And she was pregnant. He didn’t need to make clearer what was already obvious to everyone–that, yes, he was old enough to be Sophie’s father, that he would soon have a grandchild just a little younger than his new son.
His long-time colleagues knew that anyway. They remembered Barbara, and while none of them seemed surprised or sorry when he announced their parting, neither did they seem surprised or pleased when Sophie had eagerly assumed her title. He’d not said much about her pregnancy and the invasion of plastic toys and things that played music at unexpected moments that has taken over his formerly quiet, orderly home. He just stopped offering up his den for cigar night.
“Sophie, really…? Isn’t Sol staying here?”
“No,” she said, matter-of-factly. “What’s the problem?”
“It’s just… “ He looked at Sol. “He’s not going to have fun. There won’t be any other kids there.”
“He’s a baby. He’s your baby. Don’t worry about it.”
Asher was quiet on the ride to Jeff’s house, while Sophie sang to Sol about a baby beluga in the deep blue sea and Sol blew raspberries at the reflection of himself in mirror attached to his car seat. Who can resist looking at a baby? Even when Asher was delivering a speech that was meant to sum up his 25 years of teaching. What if Sol started crying ?
“Sophie, how long do you think you and Sol will want to stay? What I mean is, do you think you might want to leave early, and I can get a ride back with… Richard?”
“Asher, don’t worry. Just drive.”
“No problem, no problem,” he said, trying to put a carefree tone in his voice. The moment he parked the car and swung his legs out the door, Richard, his department chair, approached with an outstretched hand, his lanky wife, Jean, moving quietly behind him with a half smile and a full glass of something dark and potent in her hand.
“Asher. Sophie. Ah, you brought Sol,” she said.
“Sophie did,” said Asher. “She said babies love parties.”
Jean smiled vaguely. “After all, whose party is this?”
“Exactly,” said Asher.
He headed into the party a few strides ahead of Sophie, who wore Sol in a sling so that he, and indeed she, resembled a kangaroo. He sank into the welcoming sea of colleagues and only now and again raised his head to see Sophie and her joey, who had barely moved from the entrance.
“Asher, we’d like you to speak in just a moment,” said Richard. “Of course,” he replied, hoping he sounded modest while instead his pride swelled the starched pique of his steel gray shirt. But at that moment, Sophie handed him Sol.
“Asher, your turn to take the baby. I need a quick breather outside.”
Richard was turning on the microphone. Sophie had already turned her back and was walking away. He held Sol, who was smiling like a sunbeam, and, for lack of any other idea, placed him on the coffee table. “Just watch him for a minute, will you?” he asked the three teaching assistants, who looked at Sol as if he were an snapping turtle. They didn’t move.
Asher moved toward the podium and when he looked out into the crowd, he saw Sophie standing there, looking back at him. “Where’s Sol?” she mouthed.
Whose party is this? he asked himself.
“Good evening,” he began.