Photo & Poem: A Donkey’s Years

 

His bray begins with a shallow
panting, as he aligns the end of his
nose level with his back, his ears
splay flat as the horizon. Then his ribs

spread wide, gasping more air in
and sounding the long exhale,
punctuated by the flexing of his belly
muscles for a prodigious honking

howl, as a rumbling of air from his
posterior joins in in rhythm. He calls
me out, the sun sets earlier this month.
Standing from my desk, pushing past

a teetering pile of unopened envelopes,
Medicare paperwork reminding me
that age is stacked against me, as if
there is insurance against the passing

of time. I lift my chin to open my
throat and fill my lesser lungs, calling
his name back, clear and strong, and
his oral convulsions rest, acknowledged.

How long has he been with me? A
donkey’s years, as long as a donkey’s
ears. Go outside and join him to
mark the rising of the moon. Grab

a mug on the way, ignore the tepid
tea in favor of a thick Cabernet.
A drool could develop any day
now and it leaves a prettier stain.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm

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Anna Blake

37 thoughts on “Photo & Poem: A Donkey’s Years”

  1. Okay. So my clarion caller isn’t a long-eared but the demand is the same. I measure his health by the strength of his call. (There have been times when he could only muster a whimper.) Peace returns when I respond in kind.

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  2. Indeed. No insurance. The last two lines: brilliant! (And even if I hadn’t heard his braying in person, I could hear it through your words.) Hugs, sister!

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  3. Drinking with Donkeys. Sounds like a thing to me! I loved the line break after “passing”.

    Our resident Donkey Elder let out a loud bray last week behind the veterinarian’s preschool-aged daughter. The daughter often accompanies her mother on rounds, but probably had never had the full force of a donkey bray wash over her small body before. She looked around, startled, and once she knew people were looking at her, she began to cry. A bray inspires many things, it seems. The little girl was fine!

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  4. Absolutely loved this-couldn’t stop smiling and have re-read it on/off all day, just imagining you ‘braying’ back….priceless!!
    (By the way does the Cabernet taste better in a mug..? Wine glasses are waaayyy too delicate as you get older!!!).
    Thanks for making my day; again !!

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  5. “Aligns the end of his nose level with his back……..” I once had a dog who’d point and howl on command, even cease with “enough”, became a feature of our bush band, and to cries of “Put the dog on!” we’d fetch him a chair and a microphone. In order to do it he’d have to be sitting, point his nose to the sky and shift something in his throat. It all began one day when I called the horses and a certain long pitch piqued his ear.

    Seems like a similar thing in the throat is involved with a donkey’s bray.

    God bless Edgar, he gives us all so much wisdom, and thank you for sharing your lovely evening moment.

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  6. Bravo! So many thoughts and experiences of aging–my own and my mother’s decline. The image of mutual moon braying and cabernet brings it down to what is important. Thank you… Thank goodness for longears too!

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  7. I find this a perfect example of being in the present and how much animals help facilitate that. His call pulls you past the paperwork, while you grab only the Cabernet. Your drool remark is priceless, and one of your many helpful ways of acknowledging aging without becoming grim. In fact, you’re singlehandedly responsible for facilitating my decision to let my hair become its natural color (see “old gray mare”, another of your wonderful remarks).

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  8. I find this a perfect example of being in the present and how much animals help facilitate that. His call pulls you past the paperwork, while you grab only the Cabernet. Your drool remark is priceless, and one of your many helpful ways of acknowledging aging without becoming grim. In fact, you’re singlehandedly responsible for facilitating my decision to let my hair become its natural color (see “old gray mare”, another of your wonderful remarks).

    Reply
  9. OH.

    Your hail to your long-earred friend makes me miss my “Pistol Pete” so, so much. Your poem brings a big sigh, mine, and a tear.

    A good tear though, based on happy memories of living with a fuzzy clown.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  10. I’m visiting a town that has two resident donkeys who pose for the tourists…. it’s an education watching them work the crowd…
    Your description of a bray is so perfect! As for the drools…. hahahaaa! Looking forward to seeing you at Rusty’s Retreat!

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  11. There are 2 donkeys living down the road from us; and they announce the coming day more consistently than the local rooster. It’s comforting. I miss the pontiff-like bray of our old donkey. Wentworth was very discriminating as to when he would bray; but when he did, you’d better pay attention! Thanks for the memories Anna.

    Reply

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