Jane M.’s Retrievals, Golden and Otherwise

Jane’s discussion of trying to being in the moment is an especially salient point during senior year.  Looking towards the future can be just as problematic as being  “overly concerned with something that had happened in the past”.  This discussion, which occurs as Jane compares the Golden Retriever with his owner, is well-supported and brings into focus the wisdom our canine counterparts often have.

Golden Retrievals

Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so.
Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who’s—oh
joy—actually scared. Sniff the wind, then

I’m off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing. And you?
Either you’re sunk in the past, half our walk,
thinking of what you never can bring back,

or else you’re off in some fog concerning
—tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work:
to unsnare time’s warp (and woof!), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you. This shining bark,

a Zen master’s bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.

Mark Doty

Redeeming One’s Presence

In the poem “Golden Retrievals” Mark Doty, the author, produces a creative story about a dog and the dog’s owner. The title of this poem is a pun, where retrievals sounds a lot like retrievers, and coincidently they have very similar meanings. Golden retrievals is suppose to signify that the dog is retrieving his owner. The owner is “…sunk in the past,…” (7), which concerns the dog because the dog knows that he is “thinking of what [he] can never bring back,” (8). All the dog wants is for his owner to be carefree and playful. As the owner is upset about the past he is also “in some fog concerning / -tomorrow …” (9-10), which again the dog does not understand why the owner is so consumed with all these other times, and wonders why he cannot just enjoy the time he has at the moment. The dog seems very wise; he is able to detect his owner’s nuances, and acknowledges that it is “[his] work: / to unsnare time’s warp…” (10-11), meaning that the dog thinks it is his job to make his owner realize that the past and future are not worth fretting over. To get his owner’s attention he decides to “…bark, //  [like] a Zen master’s bronzy gong, …” (12-13), which will hopefully “… call [him] here, / entirely” (13-14).

There are many times in life where I find myself overly concerned with something that had happened in the past. Like the owner of the dog in the poem, my thoughts often distract me from daily activities. I spend too much time pondering through thoughts, and wondering about if, or when. Sometimes the concept of learning from one’s past is hard to grasp, or at least hard to grasp in a short period of time, leaving one pondering their thoughts endlessly. Being concerned or worried about the future is a relentless habit, which can also be hard to overcome. These concepts are especially hard for me, and more generally for people my age; there is the past which we are thriving to learn from, and then there is the future which beholds our life, and if one is not distressed about either of these things, kudos to them. I am constantly preoccupied by my thoughts, and oddly enough it is my golden retriever who retrieves me from my continuous thoughts about the past and future back into the present.

Photo credit: keeva999 via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Share Post :

More Posts