Dog Years hasn't left me yet. I have been thinking of the stray dog that Doty saw in Mexico. She put her head in his hand in such a way that they had an understanding, a passing realization that each was all right. He fed her, and he tried to sit with her through the night, but the doorman at the hotel kept shooing her away. He left the next day, and did not see the dog again.
Doty wrote that the dog gave him a great gift -- the opening of his heart, still smarting from the loss of a loved pet and a beloved partner. She made him realize he could open himself again.
Today, I saw a Banded Pennant lying flat on a stone beyond my reach in the water. I couldn't tell if it was dead or still alive, but it was surely grounded. I looked, and looked, and looked. I turned to leave, but turned back and saw it make a tiny movement with its front legs. Like Doty, I couldn't just leave without doing something.
I stood on the shore and one loose stone in the water, leaned out, and offered the pointed end of my walking stick. Slowly, I was able to coax the dragonfly onto a grassy stem, but it was so wet that the leaf couldn't support the ode's weight. I refused to walk away.
I leaned out even further and slid the stick up the stem, bringing the ode with it. Finally, the pennant grasped my walking stick, and I brought it to land, gingerly, and from there to my thumb and then to a broad leaf. It climbed and started to clean its eyes. Its wings, though, soaked, still clung together.
I did what I could.
I left, thinking about Mark Doty and the human need to do what one can for the living thing there, right there, sharing the same space and oxygen. Tonight, I am thinking of the Mexican dog and the Banded Pennant.