Larry Brody’s Poetry: The Navajo Dog Teaches A Lesson

by Larry Brody

kidhollywoodcovercoyotecaptureNOTE FROM LB: 

This poem hurts too much for me to read now because, I think, I’ve learned the lesson my friend was trying to teach me. Haven’t fully absorbed it, oh no. But I’ve lived that lesson. And live it still. 

The Navajo Dog Teaches A Lesson

We were in Colorado, the Navajo dog and I.

I was showering in a hundred foot waterfall,

Body banging against the rocks,

Flesh not so much cleansed as torn,

While she lolled on the grass nearby.

“What was the best day of your life?”

Said the Navajo dog when, beaten and bruised,

I emerged. I flopped down beside her,

Exhausted, yet filled with the power of the

Running water, feeling more about energy

Than I ever could have known. “The best day of

My life was when my first child was born,” I said.

“I was Kid Hollywood then, but still broke, still

Striving. I remember when I saw her. All I could

Think of was that no one in the world was good

Enough for my girl. I remember my arms aching,

And feeling so empty until I held her. I remember driving

Home after the birth, getting on the freeway at

Santa Monica Boulevard. I remember believing it

Was the most beautiful freeway entrance I’d ever

Seen, wondering what they’d done to make it

So special.” As I said it, I relived the day, and

The water that covered me soared up,

And away, and left me desert dry.

The Navajo dog rolled onto her

Back, offered me her belly to scratch. She sighed.

“And the worst?” she said.

“What was your unhappiest day?”

“A few years later,” I told her, “I was the head

Writer of a very good television show. I wrote the

Best script of my life, and shepherded it through

All the perils of production. And believe me,

There were quite a few. At last came the night my

Episode was scheduled to go on the air. I sat

Back to watch it, and realized my name wasn’t

There. No “Written By,” no credit, no acknowledgment

At all. A great,

Great show, and no one in the universe would

Know it was mine.”

“What did you do?” said the Navajo dog.

“I cried.

And I sued. The studio didn’t pay very much,

But at least they apologized. Seems there was a

Dispute with the Executive Producer. They wanted

To make him angry enough to quit, so they had the

Film editor snip out his name. Unfortunately, he cut

Too much film, and also took mine.

Later, that episode won a big award. At the ceremony

A clip was to be shown. But the studio sent the

Wrong piece of film. There was nothing for me

To do but stand on that stage, frightened

And wordless the whole time.”

The Navajo dog sprang to her feet, flailing paws

Clawing me away. She went to the river and stood

In the waterfall’s spray. “The worst day of my life,”

She said, “was the day before I found you. I was

Five months old, and all I had for food was horse dung.

I found some popcorn, thrown away by a tourist,

But when I started to eat a cat claimed it for her

Own. She terrified me, that cat did, all claws

And hisses and puffed-up chest that she was.

I peed right there, and ran like hell for my

Mother. The bitch was nowhere to be found

That day. Later I learned she had been chasing

A young lamb, driving him around and around,

Until he almost died of exhaustion. That was when

The Indians decided our little family had to return to Mother

Earth. The sins of the mothers, that’s the Navajo way.”

She shook herself, spraying water almost as

Violently as the waterfall, came closer to me,

Shook again. Naked and unmindful, I laughed.

“And your best day?” I said.

“Here,” said the Navajo dog. “Now. Standing in

The water, lying in the grass. Breathing. Listening.

Watching. Picking up the scents of those

Who’ve been here before, or will be here

Tomorrow as well.

Here,” the Navajo dog said again, “now.

The best is always here and now, for a dog. Feeling

The sun as it warms me. Listening to you,

My only begotten son, and finding how far

You have come,

And still have to go.

You’re halfway home,” said the Navajo dog.

“You’ve gotten the joyful part right.

But the bad, oh no, it’s not real, or true,

Or even about you. Looks like I have to stick around.”

Now I sighed, and rolled in the grass,

Went to the bank, felt the wet. I shook myself,

As the dog had done, and took the sacred

Eagle feather from the pouch tied around

My waist. It was soaked, a mess, but had

Done its job, and kept the Navajo dog from knowing

I lied. Because the truth was that the worst

Hadn’t yet come. The worst day of my life

Would be when the Navajo dog

Knew her task was over. The worst day of my

Life would be when she went away.

Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Although the book whose cover you see above is for sale on Kindle, he is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with a snort.