Loosen The Chain

Book-christmas-tree1

by Zoë Pollock

Barbara King mines the year's books for the perfect holiday passage. Here she quotes from Here Is Where We Meet, by John Berger, in a conversation between a son and his dead mother who reappears:

The mother says, “Let a few things be repaired. A few is a lot. One thing repaired changes a thousand others.” The son replies, “So?” And out flows a maternal speech:

"The dog down there is on too short a chain. Change it, lengthen it. Then he’ll be able to reach the shade, and he’ll lie down and he’ll stop barking. And the silence will remind the mother she wanted a canary in a cage in the kitchen. And when the canary sings, she’ll do more ironing. And the father’s shoulders in a freshly ironed shirt will ache less when he goes to work. And so when he comes home he’ll sometimes joke, like he used to, with his teenage daughter. And the daughter will change her mind and decide, just this once, to bring her lover home one evening. And on another evening, the father will propose to the young man that they go fishing together… Who in the wide world knows? Just lengthen the chain."

In this season of peace, may you lengthen a dog’s chain. And then see what happens.

(Photo from the Gleeson Library in San Francisco)