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Bruce Doing Chores While I Watch Lake Michigan

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While I am sitting inside,

watching Lake Michigan curl round

over and over as the water

dances with the shore,

Bruce is doing his best

to take care of my animals,

telling me about making Morgen

walk slowly out of the barn,

making her stop,

then walk a step

and then stop

instead of galloping

like when I pull open the barn door,

Mea culpa.

I’ve taught her

to charge like a race horse out of the gate

because I enjoyed seeing her run.

He speaks sternly. Makes her stop.

She shakes her head,

clapper on a bell–ding, dong.

He swings her butt away.

“She squeaks that little squeak and she tears away,” he says.

When he calls them to come in,

they don’t hear his voice.

He checks their drinking water all day,

because he knows how colic

can take them down

in weather like this. He worries.

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Little Dog barks at Bruce

when I’m there and lost in thought,

as if she wants me know,

please know, see here, that man,

she doesn’t know men,

has opened the door,

is he supposed to come into the house?

She barks.

He tells her she could be a sweet little dog

when she wants to be.

I need to catch her being quiet,

thank her with a biscuit, hold her close.

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Bruce says our young cat, Smudgie

runs laps through our house

darting behind the couch,

jumping on the table

and onto his crate

and into the china cupboard.

He is mystified at his roaring energy.

And then he stops, full stop,

Sleeps.

But I have seen Bruce smile,

giggle a little, at that cat.

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Every night he walks upstairs

sits in a rocker I set up

to be my getaway

and reads The Divine Hours.

The other cat, an orange cat

a friend almost put to sleep

because she hisses and snarls,

trots up to him

happy for company.

Both cats, crawl into his lap,

curl, purring, warm

like charging computers,

not at the same time.

But he needs to be careful,

petting between their ears

and along their cheeks

careful of how they might

lay their teeth over his hand.

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Tears press against my eyes.

I hear the same love,

the same kindness

I heard in my dad,

when he took care of Whisper,

my childhood horse,

keeping her until it was time

to move her to the Helderbergs,

where she could eat in the sun

and a view of Albany county,

owned by kind people.

She died, her coat not shed out, overheated.

For years I’ve been blocked from Bruce’s love

with the fear that hardly believes he loves me,

a fear that tosses his love

like a heap of manure into a muck bucket,

but somehow now it’s love tossing the fear,

sifting it from pine shavings,

dumping it onto the pile

where the rats burrow for warmth

and the coyotes burrow for rats.

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8 Comments

  • Max Frazier says:

    I love the fear being tossed in the muck bucket to warm the rats and feed the coyotes. It IS hard to believe we can be so loved….

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you so much. It is very hard to believe that kind of love. It has taken me years. Not to throw Christianity at you but I think that’s why that faith has gotten so perverted. We humans can’t even begin to comprehend the immensity of God’s love.

  • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    Wow. While I read this powerful poem I kept thinking… oh what a lovely husband to send you a way to your spot on Lake Michigan, where likely you are taking a break for refuge and reflection. And as I continued to read, I thought, oh how nice he is to care for your ménage of furry friends… no small task: each is different with different preferences… wonderful friends, but pets are always high maintenance. He did this not for them, but for you (ultimately). And then your “wow”–the volta, where the poem turns and the surprise comes… the unexpected epiphany for you and your reader. I loved this, and your realization that somehow we toss love we don’t think is there, but has always been in a quiet, steady way, unseen. Wonderful testament to the enduring love of a good marriage.
    Thankyou so much for sharing, and enjoy your time away.
    Love
    Lynn
    Merry Christmas!
    PS I owe you an email… but a hard time w/ illness and Christmas approaching and lots to do.

    • katiewilda says:

      Oh don’t worry about sending an email…I very much enjoyed your adventures in Iona. What an amazing trip!

      This poem was written during the Lake Michigan Writers retreat a few weeks back…I thought I’d better post something and it’s what I had. Thank you for reading it so thoughtfully.

  • Mark says:

    Poetic pastoral beauty, Katie! Thank you.

  • Yeah!! I kind of think Love is in the doing and the being. Sure not in the mink and diamond ring!! Never was never will be!!

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