Saturday, December 14, 2002

very emotional today, right now. on the verge of crying; can feel the emotion compressing my chest, for hours now. stringing lights on the tree, the last one i'll have living under this roof. feel enormously guilty at the hurt i've caused my wife; not for the divorce, we're both glad that is going to occur but for the sorrow, pain and anger i've caused. my "little" boy, now 13, helping us with the lights. 13 prior christmases with my golden-haired golden boy. the last one for me. don't "deserve" to feel such hurt inside since i am not the victim, i'm the perpetrator. still do.

waiting for divorce is a death watch. very much like dad's last few months. it is coming, you know the loved one will be better off but its a sadness unique in our existence, to know that there is no more final finality. the divorce watch.

i don't so much feel conflicting emotions but seperate, different, sometimes contradictory emotions one by one. anger one day, grief another, acceptance, excitement; maybe not excitement but a "looking forward to."

i really think though that next christmas, and those thereafter, will be better.

-benjamin harris

Thursday, December 05, 2002


the man walked with his dog in the woods that he had known since childhood along an old indian path that long ago had been widened to allow for forest fire fighting vehicles. he had hunted white tail in these woods with his older brother. his brother taught him to look for the green deer eyes at the tree wall, the point in the forest where the arboreal density made it impossible to see beyond. the tree wall was black, a swallowing, impenetrable,depthless black, not so much a color as a condition.

as he walked he saw another out in the woods with his dog. the other sat on a promontory overlooking a small ravine, the same ravine that the man, then a boy, and his younger brother had swung out and over as they hung onto vines.

the other stood up and threw a large, thick stick high over the ravine. his dog, a chocolate labrador retriever locked in on the stick, ran down the slope, looked up to check coordinates and arrived where the stick fell within moments of it's landing.

the man went over to the other, they nodded greetings, and they watched the dog, blue, the other said his name was, grasp the stick in it's jaws and prance over the floor of the ravine with the pedigree's haughtiness, it's head held high, it's tail in the air. the dog bounded up the slope, it's black coat shimmering in the late afternoon sun and went to where the other sat, dropping the stick on the ground by him.

yes the man said he had a dog also. he was black too though not a pedigree, neither large nor small and he had had him for a long time.

throw, chase, retrieve. throw, chase, retrieve. he watched as the other threw the stick and the shining chocolate lab chased after it. down the hill, up the hill.

the man nodded to the other and took his leave and he continued on his walk.

the man had gotten his dog many years back in the year of the great changes. it was in the fall or winter of that year, it had been so long ago he didn't remember, but not in the spring or summer.

almost all the boys he grew up with in the country had dogs so he didn't think much of the dog coming to him in that year. his dog seemed different but much about the world seemed different to him in the year of the great changes.

the dog's eyes were dark, almost black and they communicated intelligence, maybe not intelligence, but a knowing, but no playfulness, no child-like joi de vieve. it displayed none of the affection toward him that makes this interspecies bond unique. when it looked at him it was with familiarity, that knowing, and when he looked at it, it was with familiarity, almost with resignation.

his dog did not bound about nor did it display any territorialness toward strangers. it's only interest was the man. it's coat was black but not the shiny black of the other's dog but the swallowing, impenetrable, depthless black of the tree wall so that when the man looked at the coat he didn't see the contours of the dogs muscle and skeleton, just the blackness.

the man, then a boy, didn't speak of the dog much and noone seemed to notice any difference in the dog and since everyone had a dog he came to accept it even though he didn't much like it and he was not much afraid of it.

and for some years that's how it was. the boy, now a young man, and the dog. he came to view it as a part of him, something that made him who he was, like the bullet fragment he had in the palm of his hand. he knew it was there and so he came to accept it.

when it got cold, the tissue around the fragment would get inflamed and it would swell slightly. he would touch the small bump and roll it around with his thumb and index finger, knowing what it was, wishing he didn't have it but not concerned that it was doing him any harm. he just lived with it. he was amused by it, almost affectionate toward it. like the bullet fragment, the dog would be a significant presence at some times but at others the young man wasn't even aware that the dog was with him.

but one year the relationship between the man and the dog changed and the dog was closer to him than it had ever been before, not in a loving way but as a greater part of him. it did not growl or bite, but the dog became menacing nonetheless, it's closeness oppressive.

the man was in the arena frequently the year the dog became oppressive and he would come home with a fatigue he had not known before. as soon as he got into bed the dog would lay on him and he could feel the oppression and he felt that he couldn't move.

but this was not like harry and the hyena. the man used the dog's presence to help him sleep. he would stare into the dog's depthless black coat and lose himself. he surrendered to the blackness. he felt himself floating in the void. there was a peace that he had never known before. it was not another world, not a dream utopia, but nothingness and the man would awake in the morning and not be rested. "fifteen hours and then i can sleep again," he would tell himself. and throughout the day when he was in the arena and didn't know how he was doing it he would encourage himself. "eight more hours," "three more hours." "i have miles to go before i sleep and miles to go before i sleep."

for many months that's what the man did. the dog would crawl on him, the man would feel almost pushed through the mattress unable to move and he would give himself over to the dog and the void.

but even with the peace that the dog brought, the man knew that the dog was now a problem. maybe lots of people have dogs, but this sleeping with him for months,and pushing his whole body down, this he was sure was a problem. the man had seldom spoken of the dog with others before but now he did and with a little help from his friends he got the dog off his chest and farther away from him than it had ever been before. but the dog was still around and the man remembered the year the dog became oppressive and knew that the dog would always be with him. he would grow older, the man thought, but the dog would not.

it was now dusk and the man began walking back. the other was leaving also and the man waved to him who waved back. the other watched as the man walked away, the fading sunlight overpowering the colors of his clothes, the purple shirt and khaki pants, blending the colors until they were indistinguishable. the other watched until the man became just a silhouette, the black of the silhouette a swallowing, impenetrable, depthless black.

-benjamin harris