Owen passed away in his sleep on Sunday. He was a good rabbit.
We’re both travelers dark-eyed with love
and both possessed of white-cloud mind.
Why set out for East Mountain, when here
spring grasses grow deeper day by day?
He was sitting in a cage underneath a beady-eyed Netherland Dwarf rabbit at a pet store in Ravenna. When I mentioned I wanted a rabbit that would be good with children, the shop lady did not hesitate, “You should take that one.” He walked right over to me so I could scratch his zigzagged black and white mismarked face. I called my pal Terry, and with more than a bit of delight, we got him home on the bus. That seems like a long time ago, and so I guess it was. March 1999. He was named after Buck Owens, the famous country singer, and was my Y2K backup plan.
A rambunctious teenager of ten months, he was a paradigm of destruction at first. He’d stand on his hind legs to pull books of the shelf for gnawing. He chewed electrical cords. He ripped at the carpet. And while he seemed like he’d started house training, he’d obviously never finished it or I wasn’t the best task master. Rabbits, even a good rabbit like Owen, have the attention span of thirty seconds and a brain the size of a pea.
So he spent most of his time outside in a hutch. As he mellowed with age, he stopped chewing on stuff and spent more and more time just content to hop about and lay around. It got to the point that he was in the yard more than in his cage and I think we were both happier for that. Occasionally the shadow of a hawk would appear outside the window and I’d run outside, but nothing ever happened. Owen would watch the chickens and follow the kids around if they were playing ball.
He liked everyone. He was a bit of slut that way, not really caring who petted and cuddled him. Looking back on it now, we transversed many of life’s stages together.
For a rabbit, he was quite accomplished. He had a leading role in film and dance as the embodiment of female knowledge in a piece at the Northwest New Works Festival: transgendered acting before it was the easy way to an Oscar! He battled a mid-life weight-problem but overcame it. As an aged rabbit, he had to contend with the shock of two moves, but he also found new children to be loved by. Not bad in this life to have three children wildly in love with you. In his last hurrah, he took on the role of sage pyschotherapist, in his graying coat, by helping a young girl find something to talk about,”This is my rabbit and his name is Owen.”
My old pal will be missed by many.
The poem “For Wei Mu” (and Owen!) is written by Wang Wei in a new lovely translation by David Hinton