In the retreat with the Lakota people in the Black Hills I realized that we’re all mixtures of different things, no one’s pure this or pure that, and that often there’s some quality of brokenness built into these combinations.” | “I didn’t grow up on Mother Goose rhymes, I grew up on my mother’s stories of the Shoah and what she had had to do to survive. These were tales of death but also grit and courage, and they’ve influenced me from the time I was a girl.” | “Bernie was about to go out on an errand yesterday when I saw him standing at the door, his funny hat framing a sweet and happy face. I tried to capture the image right there, not a great photo by any means, just a casual, intimate moment that I may go back to years hence to remember how happy we were.” | “Nothing deters Stanley and me from our daily expeditions to the woods, not even shooting and the occasional glimpses of men in hunting gear with guns.” | “I am an immigrant, having come to the US at the age of 7. I remember tiptoeing silently down the hallway back then and listening to my parents talk in their bedroom about money, about how to pay bills and afford schoolbooks and clothes. Often the words they repeated were: What will happen?” | “Live your life of the fox, your less-than-ideal life, fully and completely. Instead we perpetrate violence against the things and people we did not choose. We’re afraid that this is all there is, we blame ourselves and strike out against others. Our craving, grasping minds want things to be different. Any life other than this one!”

DO NOT MAKE KILLABLE

HFTLFrontCoverlowres

In 1994 I lived near Woodstock, New York, with my Golden Retriever, Wordsworth. I’d called him that because, at the last minute, the shelter where I found him wouldn’t release him without a name. The only name that came quickly to mind was that of the Romantic poet whose verses I was reading those evenings, William Wordsworth.

Wordsworth found Beau, a 90-lb. black Malamute mix living a lonely, isolated life in a doghouse nearby, chained forever to a wire. Whenever Beau saw us coming through the woods he’d leap up to the top of his doghouse, whimpering, and jump Wordsworth as soon as he came within reach. The two played nonstop till it was time to go, and Beau would chase Wordsworth till the wire pulled him short, causing him to go smash on the ground, howling so loudly that I could still hear him when I entered my home.

I felt sorry for the lonely dog and often asked his “owner,” as we say, to let him off. It took a year for the man to finally agree, and whenever he freed Beau the dog would come down to my cabin and scratch on the door (having first destroyed the screen door), and the two dogs would play till it was time for Beau to go back to the wire.

I loved sitting on the steps outside and watching the two together because they were so different, the Golden serious, easy, and confident, Beau younger, more playful, funny, and completely inexperienced in the ways of humans and homes. But mostly I was fascinated by the image of two dogs, one free, the other tied down. What makes us free? What makes us slaves? Is it just external forces, or is it something deeper? I began to imagine how this might play out in a world without humans.

I began to write a sketch entitled The Adventures of Wordsworth and Beau, where the former teaches the latter the true meaning of freedom. Five chapters later I put the book aside and returned to work with the Zen Peacemakers and the man who would later become my husband, Bernie Glassman, in their projects in Yonkers, New York. Returning to Woodstock for a weekend half a year later, I found Beau thin and unresponsive, chained back next to his doghouse.

Ten years later I went back to the book, not as a sketch but as a challenge to create an entire world of dogs, wolves, and even a few surviving humans after humans managed to destroy themselves and much of the world. Once again, I began with the image of two dogs, one free (and a poet!) and the other bound. I had no intention of writing a trilogy, but one question led to another question, one character to the next and the next, and finally–over a long time– the true focus and scope of the story emerged.

That focus has to do with something called human exceptionalism, the sense that we humans are at the center of life and all other sentient and nonsentient beings are the environment that surrounds us. I write about dogs not just because I love them, but because it’s my anthropomorphic way of invoking Donna Haraway’s restatement of the sixth of the Ten Commands: Thou shalt not make killable

The first book of the Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills trilogy is now out, called Hunt For the Lynx. At some point I’ll have a better selling platform (support your local independent bookstore!), but for now you can buy the book on Amazon.

And Wordsworth and Beau? A year after I left Woodstock I received a call. Beau was ill. I drove up to Woodstock, picked him up, and brought him straight down to a couple in Peekskill who loved and took care of him—along with the rest of their menagerie—to the end of his long life. Wordsworth and I traveled cross-country (in more ways than one) and he died in June 2002, ten days before my return East.

 

THE DOGS OF THE KISKADEE HILLS

The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills: Hunt for the Lynx begins a trilogy about a society of dogs after humans have destroyed themselves and much of the world. Living with their families and clans in the Kiskadee Hills, they’ve developed over generations a rich tradition and way of life, and have prospered. But now, an unknown killer is butchering the Kisdees of the Hills.

Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges says: “You will never look at dogs the same again. Eve Marko gives us a story that explores the path that life on our planet has taken, and asks what your role in that course might be.”

BEARING WITNESS

Eve Marko - Bearing Witness

To bear witness to anything is to be as close to it as possible.

It’s not to read books or see movies about it, it’s not to have an opinion or tell a story. It’s to let go of all ideas about it—be in the space of not-knowing—and simply be there, up close and deeply personal.

Eve has been involved with the Zen Peacemaker Order’s Bearing Witness Retreats—in places of suffering and conflict since her first visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

There have been 20 retreats at the site of those concentration camps since, along with retreats in Bosnia, Rwanda and the Black Hills of South Dakota, near the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Upcoming Bearing Witness Retreats:

Bosnia, May 2016 (Please email for details)

ABOUT EVE MARKO

Eve Marko

Eve Marko is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, head teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Massachusetts, and a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order.

She has trained spiritually-based social activists and peacemakers in the US, Europe and the Middle East alongside her husband, Bernie Glassman, and has been a Spiritholder at retreats bearing witness to genocide at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rwanda, the Black Hills in South Dakota, and Bosnia. Before that she worked at the Greyston Mandala for a decade, which provides housing, child care, jobs, and AIDS-related medical services in Yonkers, New York.

Eve’s articles on social activists have appeared in the magazines Tikkun and Shambhala Sun, and her collection for lay Zen practitoners, The Book of Householder Koans, will come out in late 2016. Her great love, Hunt for the Lynx, the first in her fantasy trilogy, The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills, will come out in early 2016.

“When I was a young girl my dream was to be a hermit, live alone, and write serious literature. That’s not how things turned out. I got involved with people. I got involved in the world.

Two things matter to me right now: the creative spark and the aliveness of personal connection. In some way, they both come down to the same thing.”