Friday, June 10, 2011


On a hot dusty day, we buried Patty Adam in Fairview Cemetery on Cerrillos road in Santa Fe, with a small crowd of friends in attendance. The cemetery, on the National Historic Register, is odd, small, old, and dry, with 19th century tombstones and a general air of benign neglect-- think New Orleans with prairie dogs resident and dead grass instead of damp moss. Her neighbors, so to speak, include the fiery Polish-American writer Maia Wojciechowska (mother of our painter friend Oriana Rodman), and other local luminaries.

God knows what her friends we didn't know thought of our choice in readings. Patty had asked for a psalm and we all agreed on a "dog poem". I found a brilliant rather scary Ogden Nash that was more Housman than doggerel (sorry!), and we skipped over the more conventional sweetness of Psalm 23-- green pastures, fear no evil and all that-- for the tragic beauty of a selection from Psalm 103:

"For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth we are dust.

"As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

"For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more."

(I actually read from her childhood friend Virginia Huntington's little leather- bound book of psalms; it is tempting to wonder whether another little girl might have seen it in China long ago).

Then, the Nash, particularly poignant when you have aging dogs too. One tends to think of Nash as silly but this one is not:

My little pup ten years ago
was arrogant and spry
Her backbone was a bended bow
for arrows in her eye
Her step was proud, her bark was loud,
her nose was in the sky,
But she was ten years older then,
And so by God, was I.

Small birds on stilts along the beach
rose up with piping cry.
And as they rose beyond her reach
I thought to see her fly.
If natural law refused her wings,
That law she would defy,
for she could do unheard of things
and so, at times, could I.

Ten years ago she split the air
to seize what she could spy;
now she bumps against a chair,
betrayed by milky eye!
She seems to pant,
time up, time up
My little dog must die,
And lie in dust with Hector's pup
So, presently must I.

Last, Libby read a sweet verse by Tolkien sent by Lily's breeder, Teddy Moritz in New Jersey:

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
With morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.

For there are still so many things
that I have never seen:
In every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago
And people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

But all the time I sit and think
of people long ago
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lib & All

Thinking of you all at this sad & reflective time - the worst is over, and memories will buoy you up - the Tolkien verese were so appropriate.



Anonymous said...

We're so blessed by the returning feet and voices at the door. Grateful I've heard yours so recently! Love, Sally

Matt Mullenix said...


Peculiar said...

Great choices, Steve!