My Best Life

This is a poem which imagines the author in multiple past and present lives, particularly as a dachshund in the royal court of Fernando and Isabella. The poem explores the nature of prayer against the backdrop of human atrocity.

Before the first daisy petal of light
And before the rooster’s belated announcement of a new day
Dawn always had her own melody.
Back then, dawnsong mingled with my badger dreams
And called me to my four paws
To bark my morning prayers into the waiting east
Sounding pure love into the silken ears of God.

Back then, there were always dachshunds
In the royal courts of Spain
And I was the most elegant of them all.
Of all my selves in all my lifetimes
This was the one most richly blessed.
Back then, when they leaned in close
Even the most brokenhearted and mournful ones
Could inhale the lingering aroma of my puppyhood
And be comforted, delighted and healed.
Such was my longhair dachshund power.

That was back then, before Isabella expelled the Jews
And before Columbus made his bumbling trip across the sea.
That was before alarm clocks and daylight savings time
Messed with the music of dawn.
Before Auschwitz, before Hiroshima, before Charleston
And before automatic transmission.

Since then I’ve had my stint as a badger
And can no longer claim innocence.
I’ve worn the quills of a porcupine,
The slippers of a ballerina
And the rags of a beggar.
I’ve hung diplomas on my wall
And worn diamonds on my fingers.
I’ve even held the other end of a leash.

These days, my joy comes inside a dryer-warm hooded sweatshirt
Like the oversize wrinkly coat
Supple and sweet-smelling
That was always too big for my low-slung frame.
Maybe Trayvon wanted to feel like a dachshund too.

I’ve prayed in Hebrew, Aramaic, Urdu and Ladino.
I’ve recited prayers in French, Arabic, Hindi and Italian.
If God listened to any of it, I’d be surprised
But who knows?
If I were God, I’d lie awake all night
Waiting for the prayersounds of a dachshund
To soothe my grieving God ears.
To soothe my grieving ears.

Donna Jane Krupkin Whitney, M.D., M.Div is a lifetime lover of dachshunds, a retired physician, retired college professor and current member of the pastoral staff of Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville TN – a community of believers inclusive of all and alienating to none, leading the way to spiritual growth by sharing God’s love with the world.

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