Options.

The well hasn’t run
out. There’s still enough water
to drown yourself in.

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smoke signals

smoke swims through the slits of her fingers as she keeps her eyes
to the dark sheen of sky; she wonders
how he sleeps, who sifts and slips in through his dreams
and what color they bear – rose, cyan, or that shy shade
of viridian – or maybe he dreams with an absence
of colors: all hollow and plain as her lungs,
where she sends all the words she wishes to tell him,
each hesitant breath drowning
the sound of her own desire, placing
fingertips to lips, smelling the clammy scent
of her own ruin, resolving regardless – because somewhere
he rests, sleeps, dreams in whiffs. Somehow that is all that matters
and she breathes in smoke, once more,
wiping out words from memory,
dining on ashes.

Invincibility:

Believing that you own the world and call dominion
over the wide concave of sky; claiming
the brightness of stars to satiate your hunger, tasting
planets and black holes without the consequence
of sounds, the endlessness of space –
only to be drawn down by invisible threads,
the weight of words revealing
how your body is human, dying.

I’m not supposed to say anything. So I wrote this. What I can do is different from What will happen. These are days when I believe the world is unkind. Knocking on all the bits of wood I can.

Chooch

My dog Chooch turned thirteen a few days ago. He had a very uneventful birthday. Everyone forgot. Thirteen years is easy to overlook, especially if we’re talking about a dog who just naps all day.

How would I describe Chooch?

He’s a stray that was given to us years ago when we were children. A mix of brown patches on white fur, always lively and smart, he was a long shot from our other dogs[1] (well, the ones that are still alive, and by that I mean one: Max).

Chooch arrived a year after Max and a year before Peewee. My mother named him Kampupot, after a local flower but this didn’t hold for long. My sisters and I renamed him to our amusement (Capuccinno, Poochie, Pooch, Foot) until we eventually decided to call him Chooch. Chooch didn’t mind this at all. He answered to any name that had the long “o” vowel. We let our dogs out in the house when we were younger, so we had reasons to run around. When we grew older, my sisters stopped minding him. My younger sister took to purposely agitating the dogs (and almost all of our pets) so they started hating her. My youngest sister grew afraid of dogs, and I think our pets started feeling the same for her in that regard. Pretty soon, I was the only one who could come near them without risking being bitten. But this sense of safety did not necessitate closeness – I grew up as well, took to spending less time with my pets and more with my books and friends. I still say “hi” and give him the occasional pat on the head, noting the weak wag of his now-old and scraggly tail.

Chooch started growing blind when he was ten, give or take, and recently, lost function of his hind legs. Both injuries were due to old age, the veterinarian told me. I don’t really believe this. I think the vet was just trying to find something else to say other than “You weren’t a very good owner.” The x-ray of his hind area showed a herniation in his vertebrae – nerves poking out from the spine and causing an inflammation among other nerves, thereby immobilizing him. He also developed mange from some ticks. We bought the necessary medication and brought him back to the vet after a month. Now he has a wound at his shin, from constant attempts at walking but falling.

The vet tells me he can’t walk anymore, and that his liver is abnormal. We buy more meds, now he’s on a liver diet and isn’t allowed to eat anything else. The wound at his shin is bound by gauze but they have to be replaced twice daily. We bind his hind legs with a shorn bit of my old high school jogging pants to prevent him from biting it, from reopening the wound.

I prepare his new meds only to find out that the maid, whom I’ve asked to add the medicine to Chooch’s food, hasn’t been doing so. Apparently, she thought they were to be discontinued a week ago, didn’t see me refill the little plastic bags that I labeled per day. I realize the medicine he hasn’t been given was the one that was supposed to help his liver so I start shouting and swearing in front of everybody while the maid keeps attesting it is not her fault that she forgot, et cetera.

My mother slaps my face and tells me it’s my fault, because I didn’t see if the maid was doing her job. “She only graduated grade 6, don’t you know?” I keep swearing anyway, while preparing the meds, and my mother slaps me again. The maid doesn’t shut up either, not until ten minutes later.

I lay everything out in front of the maid and tell her what to do, despite the anger welling inside me. Tomorrow I’m going to explain to my mother how much of the medicines to administer, and when. The day after, I’m leaving for another part of the country, for a week.

A few minutes ago I administered Chooch’s meds, stuck a syringe-less injection into his mouth to give him his supplements. He just sat there the whole time – looking at me with his half-blind eyes, weak-wagging tail, and pale pink tongue sticking out, licking the traces of the medicine. We feed him his medicated food and he devours it, the good dog he is. I pat his head as a goodnight and he makes an attempt to curl his body, resting his head on his immobile legs. I realize what a horrible person I am.


[1] Bopis, who was nice and sweet until my father forgot to close the garage and out into oblivion he went, never to be seen; Gigi – small, dark, and noisy companion to my great-grandfather, she died from diarrhea; Oshkosk and Beethoven – Japanese spitzes we acquired at the same time companions to the end, although Beethoven left earlier; Miguel, the world’s dumbest dachshund whose backside grew so heavy it left him permanently immobile until he died of a heart attack years later; Robin, the only one who died tragically by being shot by a drunkard; Biskit, stupid, stupid, heartless noisy dog but the best watchdog ever, bit anything that moved; Peewee, my favorite – jumpy and noisy and small but taken by rat poison mixed with my mother’s failure to let me leave the house to bring her to the emergency room due to her needing to put makeup beforehand; Boomer, innocent and happy to be with anyone, your typical puppy, lost when the maids left the door open; Max, stupid and old but still alive and kicking at the age of fourteen.