Beautifully Broken

Jack
Photo: Jennifer Hambrick

Many thanks to editor Miriam C. Jacobs for publishing my poem “One-eyed” in the July 2016 issue of Eyedrum Periodically, the literary journal of Atlanta’s Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery. This issue of Eyedrum Periodically is on the theme “Broken,” a true goldmine for poets, who don’t miss a beat when it comes to the wrongness of the world.

“One-eyed” explores both the desperate reality and the exquisite beauty of our human brokenness. The poem was inspired by our dog, Jack, a one-eyed rescue pug who was starved to skin and bones during his first year of life, before we adopted him. We’re not certain what happened during that first year, but Jack might have been born in a puppy mill and, because of his noticeably defective left eye at birth (and since removed), shunted aside for the “reject” pile.

Whatever the reasons, Jack early on grew to fear strangers. But he is a pug and, by nature, a love muffin, and fell in love with us not long after we adopted him. He is extraordinarily protective. I am convinced that he would fight to the death were he to perceive any threat to us.

I am convinced of this because Jack has taken it upon himself to look out our front window now and then each day on what we call “neighborhood watch.” At most, he sees our neighbors across the street going into and out of their homes, working – or in the case of the kids, playing – in their yards, and just generally, as poet James Agee put it, “standing up into their sphere of possession.” And, as I wrote in “One-eyed,” Jack “barks and barks and barks” at our neighbors being neighbors because he’s afraid.

And because he’s broken.

But lest I leave you on a down note, I must also say that, as broken as Jack’s little soul might remain, there is no creature more joyous, more beautiful, more fully himself than One-Eyed Jack. Daily he teaches me that it is possible to live and love through one’s brokenness, that, in fact, one’s brokenness is where we are who we really are, under the wrappers we try to hide behind. Jack’s brokenness reminds me of the world’s need for love.

In that sense, we are all one-eyed. We are all beautifully broken.

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