Let me explain.
Whitey was born an albino.
When I was just a little boy
We were down by the brook
And saw a whole litter of muskrats
Playing together on the earthen dam
By the spillway of our pond.
(The pond was more like a small lake.
We had lots of money back then,
But that’s another story.)
Then, the summer passed.
All the baby muskrats grew up
Except for the pure white one,
. . .Whitey.
There was something special about Whitey.
She never seemed to age.
She lived by the spillway,
Always alone, summer after summer.
I aged quickly.
I graduated high school.
Left for college.
Went to grad school.
Moved to Vermont.
Now Whitey is back.
She is bigger.
She looks great!
She talks a lot
But she’s a good listener too.
And loves to have her belly tickled.
When we finish breakfast
We’re going to walk on the beach.
Whitey is interested in my writing.
She’s interested in me
And wants to collaborate on a project.
I could go on.
I talk more when I’m happy,
But the waitress keeps looking over
Like she wants us to pay up.
There are people lined up outside
And peering in the window.
Besides, Whitey is antsy
To get moving.
This is going to be an amazing day!
A word of explanation is in line for this poem. It was inspired by a dream that I was sitting in a cafe having breakfast with someone who was, at least in appearance, a person, a person who I knew well and even felt some affection for, whose. . . how should I say this. . .whose “nagual” was a white muskrat. (In the Don Juan books, the nagual is described in various ways, but the one I am referring to here is, the animal spirit that a person of power can transform into at will.) In this dream there is a feeling of reunion, as with an old friend, someone from my distant past, someone who knew me when I was little and all through my growing up. It was only when I moved away from my childhood home in rural Connecticut that I lost track of her. I think she came with the land, she belonged with that place. There was a pond behind the back yard, in the woods where we used to play when it was just a brook. In this dream she has found me. This kind of thing is akin to a shamanic soul-retrieval. Her return reminds me of my childhood, which was a happy time for me. I spent most of it outdoors, barefoot. The white color of Whitey, or if any animal in a dream is white, it points to its spiritual nature, so she really is connected with my soul and my roots.
I don’t write that many happy poems. They can’t just be manufactured, to make myself happy. They are serendipitous. I looked up the word serendipitous and was delighted with its etymology — it’s perfect for what I am trying to say. Serendipitous dates back to 1754: coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.” Isn’t that a perfect definition of truly happy moments, that they just happen unexpectedly and are not necessarily tied to the quest?