This is happening right now

I settle into my chair under the stars and suddenly Elvis is barking incessantly at something.

He’ll bark at the neighbor dogs occasionally but I’ve never heard him do this nonstop, rhythmic, “barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark…”

I call him and he doesn’t even pause.

Okay, obviously there is an animal over there that my dog is antagonizing.

Fuck.

I have to run inside, grab my phone, slip my flippies on, and run across the yard to see if I am about to be eaten.

Of course, I was worried about Elvis too.

I’m thinking, “Is this going to be my cougar encounter that I’ve been dreaming of (or dreading)?”

And then, the meager light from my phone reflects off of two white stripes in the darkness.

My brain works faster than I ever thought possible: skunk, dog, has he been sprayed already, I don’t smell it, hunh my foot hurts, skunk between me and elvis, do not, I repeat, do not want to get sprayed tonight, I cannot smell like skunk, fuck, I can’t go to work, so many skunkings, remember tessa when she rubbed against you, whatever you do, don’t let him touch you.

I start calling Elvis, with a sense of urgency in my voice which cripples him into submission, on his back, with a hard-on.

At the skunk’s feet.

The skunk turns around and Elvis cowers then finally comes running just as that tail lifts high in the air.

I wanted him to hurry but I wasn’t about to pick him up. I still couldn’t tell if he’d already been sprayed or not.

We tear up to the door and Elvis is a nervous wreck and I make him lie down so I can sniff him, which freaks him out even more.

Then I let him inside.

He’s so wound up from all the excitement that he runs laps around the couch for a solid 3 minutes.

And I think, “Ouch, my foot hurts.”

And I look down and the damn thing’s blowing up like a balloon and turning black and blue before my eyes, and there is a lot of point tenderness, and…

I don’t have a fucking clue what happened.

Not one bit.

There was a moment facing off with the skunk that I noticed it hurt but I wasn’t aware of anything that I had just done, but I so crazed about the beast that maybe I just don’t remember.

I can’t figure it out. It has changed shape over the last hour – it’s gone from an overall swelling to a rising mountain of swole right by the raven.

(please know that I know that “swole” in only a word if you’re 16 in hillbillyland.)

It’s got a solid 2 inch diameter – you’d think I’d have some idea of what happened, but I really don’t. It’s all a big skunky blur.

All I remember was the sight of those two white lines.

my chair

Tonight I took the time to sit under the moon in my chair, a ritual that I lost over the winter.

Shortly after I lay down I got shaky – physically and emotionally – and it was suddenly a year ago and I was in my chair, on the Ranch, trying to continue breathing while I dealt with my devastation.

Then I thought, “In a couple of weeks it will be a year.”

A year.

I can’t say whether this year has gone fast or achingly slow; it’s been both.

The hours I spent under the Ranch cottonwood tree staring at the same mountains in my view tonight, just from a different angle.

I mentally sifted and sorted. I cried, I had a few moments of relief. There was too much noise in my daily life – my chair was the only place where I found some peace.

Prior to the breakup, as things fell apart, I had trouble sleeping. As things got worse, I barely slept at all. And when I did catch a wink of sleep, it was in my chair wrapped in a quilt under the stars.

Tonight while half my brain said this is good for the soul, the other half wanted to run inside.

But I stayed. I flitted in and out of sadness and solidity – memory and the present.

Such sorrow for having had to have gone through this.

And yet, I feel my strength too. I didn’t lie out there feeling morose for the entire time.

It’s beautiful and spiritual and utterly fascinating.

It is good for the soul.