D is for–

D is for

I found me in a whole behind the bookshelf, there in the molding, hanging on to a spine of the Junior Britannica, our set covered in leathery red.

The volume was D; I snuck a letter into it to my dog once because I had killed her and I didn’t know how else to send mail to a dead dog.

Of course, I had not meant to kill my dog but, for a child, result is not mitigated by intention.

Fate had thrown me a hard ball.  It had not been a particularly hand throw, but it was a base ball, and in that game of catch, the trees blurred green and the grass smoothed to ground where I stood beneath a locust’s grape-fingered shade and I just missed–my hands and glove knock knees (at least for that catch), which meant that the ball hit the trunk of the locust, rebounded to the side, then tagged the small dog as she barked and darted at the back of our game in what was somehow the perfect place in the neck to break it, and the dog’s lithe little body immediately lay limp, and though I probably screamed, my re-creations all seem silent except for my mother who ran out of the house, shrieking ”oh no oh no oh no” and not to bring the dog inside.

So my father and I huddled the little body over to the car me kissing its nose in an almost surreptitious way as I wondered frantically whether you could do mouth-to-muzzle resuscitation on a dog, but somehow felt too embarrassed even in extremity to ask, while my dad in his own extremity careened us to the vet’s, and when the vet was closed, our family doctor, heaving with every gear shift, even as I kind of calmed, feeling, after my lap wet with warm, that surely if the dog peed she must still be alive.

And I said to the little girl in the molding, who held the spine of the D Junior Britannica, “what are you doing,” and she simply said ‘I’m sorry,” which sounded at first as if she hadn’t heard me but meant, I realized then, that she was simply being sorry over there, actively being sorry, being sorry her/my whole life long, and I said to her/me, “but look, that was many years ago,” and she said, “I know.”


This is actually a short excerpt from a little book I am working on; it is very much a draft. I am posting it today for Brendan MacOdrum”s prompt on Real Toads, which I am interpreting as a prompt about the panoply of things that make us sing (or at least write.) 

The pic doesn’t really go with the piece!  It’s actually from a different book I am working on!  (A children’s book)  (I have all sorts of highly unfinished projects!)  But anyway, there it is.  It is my drawing, charcoal and pastel.  All rights reserved. 

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19 Comments on “D is for–”

  1. Kerry Says:

    This story reads so true, as is the case with all good stories, and such to bring sudden tears to my eyes for the little dog and girl, faced with a brutal lesson on life and death.

  2. This is a piece that lingers with me… I can feel the pain and the hope in the little girl who accidentally kills her dog… the details of the peeing as well as the letter tucked away… there are those painful memories of things we carry with us…. I wonder if they ever leave us.

  3. Jim Says:

    O Karin, I feel so badly for your lament. It will never go away. I too have killed my dog. I might even yet allow the small boy in me write and hide away such a note.
    Von and I were playing in the coral and I was ready to go in. So I left, going over the half gate. Von was very old and in retrospect I’ve come to know that she didn’t have strength to jump over the bottom part. It was a hot day and she died in with the pigs. I almost tear still telling this.

    • Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

      Dear Jim (little boy Jim) let me give you a big cuddle while you cry. It wasn’t your fault; you were too young to know. (And I was the mother of little boys.)

  4. sanaarizvi Says:

    This is such a poignant write, Karin! I can feel the emotions the little girl goes through .. and wonder if that kind of regret ever leaves us?

  5. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    You made me cry, too. Beautiful, truthful writing. I want to know how to get this book when it is finished!

  6. gillena Says:

    There is stored in this poem, such a series of emotions summed up in regret.

    An amazing story K

    much love…

  7. So beautifully written from the perspective of the child who would of course blame herself for not catching a curve-ball adult sent…so much to admire here and to be sorrowful for.

  8. Oh, wow — I can imagine how that could happen, hitting exactly the wrong spot. And then the child’s impulse to write a letter and how to deliver it. 😦

  9. Oh so sad, this story and Jim’s. The memories that break our hearts all over again each time we remember. Beautifully told.

  10. annell4 Says:

    A sad tale, I’m glad I don’t remember when I killed my dog, and remember instead it never happened to me. Thanks for the tale.

  11. This is very powerful. The guilt we feel as children is not amenable to logic.

  12. elleceef Says:

    A beautiful, sad story. many emotions surfaced as I read your words. I think your book is going to be a very good read.

  13. willow88switches Says:

    wow – those first 3 paragraphs – they are so poignant, so raw and real, so “small voiced” yet adult, I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it, or even find appropriate words, other than to note, this is heart-wrenching, yet so beautifully expressed – the story, and the image, even as the two technically aren’t companions as such. Truly a remarkable offering here. I’m just stunned.

  14. Brendan Says:

    Marvelously told Karin — Delicately woven between prose and poetry, between the history and the mystery of it. And I have a glimpse of all those volumes which made you whole.

  15. grapeling Says:

    stunning work, k: beautiful and poignant and true and sorrowful and makes us all want to be there and not be there, too. ~

  16. A beautiful story…I can relate. It was books that carried me when life libraried me into sorrow.

  17. othermary Says:

    How would we survive, and what would we do without books? This really touched me, K. You’ve turned sorrow and guilt into something beautiful.

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