Pour One Down

in the last of the sun's dying rays
on one of those long drawn out autumn days
we pour one down
for our friends underground

we filled our glasses up with champagne
and we tried to make merry but it felt so strange
as we poured one down
for our friends underground

the sky starts to darken between the low boughs
blood-red leaves form piles in the aisles
between the spruce trees
and we've got each other
at least for now

we stand at the cusp of the gathering dark
at the edge of the woods at the brink of our hearts
we clink glasses and clasp hands
in the lingering warmth

i look to you and you give me a smile that says
don't worry babe you've got me for a while
here between sunset spruce trees and earth

the stars are all hidden by banks of blue clouds
blood-red leaves form piles in the aisles
between the spruce trees
and we've got each other
at least for now

Time for some real talk, people. REAL. TALK. I have a lot of problems with the lyrics of this song. Not all of them - I think most of them are quite good, which is why the part that bothers me is such a problem. "Pour one down for our friends underground"? I'm not into this anymore, and I can't remember why I ever thought that that was poetry. Fie on you, Past Zoë. But still, this song includes the phrase "at the brink of our hearts" which is how I feel all the damn time, so it's worth it for that. 

When I was growing up on Willowbrae Farm, my younger sister Fiona had a dog named Jamie. He was a Good Dog. He was some type of mutt, and because I don't know from dogs, I can't even tell you what kind of breeds were mixed in there. Some day, when I'm a better, more sensitive writer, I'll be able to set down in words how much Jamie and Fiona meant to each other. My sister did not always have an easy time of it in public school. She wanted to move and dance and laugh and explore, and teachers kept telling her to sit down and shut up - or so I have gathered. At the time, I was wrapped up in my own "puny sorrows" and not very sympathetic. Being with Jamie was an obvious relief for Fiona, and through all of her teen years, they made each other very happy. 

But of course, all good things come to an end and even the very best, most wonderful dogs die (because life is a vale of tears and everything is completely unfair) and Jamie died in 2010. My god, when I found out that Jamie had died, I cried for an entire day, I was so distraught. I made a special trip down to my parents' house to honour his life and drink champagne with my sister. And we stood in the woods surrounding the little pond out the back, and I recited some lines from Disney's The Fox and the Hound and we cried and cried. We cried because Jamie was gone, and what an excellent, excellent dog he was, but also because we knew that we would all have to die someday, and leave each other. No more champagne and sunsets. 

Maybe someday I'll rewrite the parts of this that make me cringe, so I can enjoy performing this sad, pretty ode to grieving. 

© 2016 by Zoë Robertson. Photography by Robert Zbikowski and Vincent Fugere. Proudly created with Wix.com

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