It is with a heavy and broken heart to report that our dear, sweet boy, Tink, was laid to eternal rest over the weekend. We had a sudden complication with his special foot and after the emergency vet arrived and worked with us to do everything we could, we had to say goodbye. Our family is devastated by this sudden loss and I’m so sad to have to share this news. Many of you were such loving advocates and supporters of sweet Tink and for that, we are all so grateful. I’d written this poem some time last year for him and decided to share it with all of you today in memoriam. He lives on eternally in our hearts. Forever our boy, Tink. Forever our bravest boy.
Even among 1,000 other donkeys, you stood out:
Your coat, a shining, chocolate brown and
Your ears icinged with textured, creamy white.
You laid lazily in the sand, soft rolls of your
Skin rumpled up around your shoulders and chin
And there, against the piped fence, you were
Thin, white lines circled your miles-deep eyes
And I could swear that the sky looked a little
Different around you—tugged by gravity, perhaps.
An equine equivalent to a black hole on Earth,
Your presence pulled my gaze, attention,
And beating heart into the shifting spaces about you.
Much later on in the day, I passed your paddock again
But this time you stood with one, front hoof lifted
And to a feeder of hay, you limped.
“What happened to him?” I asked your temporary caretaker (an angel)
And she said that you, Tink, had been permanently injured and that,
Could you believe it, the injury was caused by human neglect.
They had rescued you.
Your front, left hoof had been removed and left behind
Was exposed tissue—pink, soft, and unprotected.
She said you still needed a home and that they
Were waiting for the perfect home to come around
And like a drop of water on a frying pan, I jumped and said
I’d take you. I didn’t even think, not even for a second.
I’d take you.
Weeks later, you arrived at my house—three hooves
And two boots and all the pulling
Presence you had back at the thousand-donkey ranch.
I don’t know if you remembered me that day,
But when you hopped off that trailer,
You brayed so loud that the birds flew.
I laughed and there were some tears I think
But I was so happy that my home was
Yours now, too. My magic ranch with chickens
Who tell stories and gardens that reveal
Worlds beneath the dirt. My home was yours
Now too, with Bunny the donkey who thinks
She’s a human mom to me and to us all and
Tee the mini donkey who is content with good hay, good scratches
And good songs with acoustic guitars.
My home was yours now, too, with King Ranch
Who can fix anything that breaks (you, included!) and Little Foot
Who will follow you and learn from you and befriend you.
You were home and that night, when I brushed
Your chocolate, brown coat under the baffled
Stars with Bunny and Tee watching curiously,
This magic ranch felt even more like home
Because you’d finally arrived. You with your
Two, interchangeable boots, had finally arrived.
Not much time passed before you and Tee
Became inseparable—a double tail behind
Bunny who bossed you two around which
Is exactly how I assumed it would be. She’s
A mom at heart, even without her own, born children
And it’s her that’s kept all of us grounded all this time.
My home was yours now, too, with concrete
Blocks marking the graves of fallen birds and
Gates that squeal with time. Rose petals
Sprinkle the lawns all spring and summer long
And in the fall, they’re replaced with millions
Of pecans that crunch satisfyingly beneath your steps.
We’d been waiting for you, you know, which is
Why I think the world pulled me to you that day—
That day I saw you laying there without knowing
Who you were.
It’s been since you arrived that King Ranch and I
Have finally started to make sense of this
Ranch life. This strange place that we moved to
Impulsively, unknowing of the stories waiting to be told.
We’ve cried and we’ve fought and we’ve lost
Sleep over our confusion here but more importantly,
We’ve now found hope. Hope that,
Even though there are people in this world who
Can so profoundly mistreat animals and stand to see their own faces
In a mirror, there’s hope. Even though there are wars
Shedding blood and life in distant lands, there is hope. There are those
Who say that the world will end within our children’s
Lifetime but nevertheless, there’s hope. There’s hope because
You’re alive. By all accounts, you shouldn’t be here
And anyone else would’ve put you down to
Put you out of your misery but guess what
I’ve found? You’re not miserable and in fact, you’re
The happiest, most energetic, most magical
Donkey that’s ever lived.
You defy odds. You defy stereotypes. You defy
All of nature simply by being who you are. You’ve
Brought people together who would’ve otherwise
Never met. You are the story that others need
To hear—the donkey with three hooves whose
Louder and more vibrant than all the other donkeys.
You’re the donkey who cannot be kept down. The donkey who
Manipulates the sky and the stars simply because
He is. The donkey who finally came home and with him,
We don’t have all the answers and no surprise but,
We never will. We can’t change our pasts, nor
Should we worry about tomorrow. We breathe, moment
By precious moment and you, Tink, my three-hooved
Donkey…you remind us to do this. You remind us that we
Are not limited by our shortcomings but can rather be
Made stronger by them. That we should embrace
About ourselves all of ourselves regardless of the
Stigma or stereotype or strangeness—that simply
By being alive, we are strong.
Tink, my sweet, three-hooved donkey, you remind
Us all to be present—to leave our pasts and our futures
Exactly where they are and stretch out every
Interim second to its fullest size. To breathe in
The air of the now, and to bray and sing and shout
Because life’s just too short to disappear into darkness.
This world can be so unfair. People can be so cruel, so wicked,
So centered around their selfishness that they have no
Idea how their actions affect those around them.
They forget or perhaps they never realized that
All breath pulls from the same sky, pulls from the same trees
And there, we are one.
Inhale, exhale, peace, peace, peace.
But on we go, my dear Tink, on we go dancing and braying
And pouring our molten love and pillowy peace into everything
Around us because at the end of it all, it’s all we can do.
It’s all we should do—love one another, three hooves or four or none—
Love each other so deeply and breathe in the moments so deeply
And be so deeply grateful for life blooming wildly and free around us.
This is our beginning, my friends. This moment. This
Line in a poem, this is our beginning. Breathe in—feel that?
That’s a new beginning, too.
Exhale, begin again. Inhale, begin again. Sing, dance,
Weep, fly, bray, sleep, whatever—begin again.
Be like Tink, the bravest donkey, and breathe.
Inhale, exhale, peace, peace, peace.