Before this day I loved
like an animal loves a human,
with no way to articulate
how my bones felt in bed
or how a telephone felt so strange
in my paw. O papa—
I called out to no one—
but no one understood. I didn’t
even. I wanted to be caught. Like
let me walk beside you on my favorite leash,
let my hair grow long and wild
so you can comb it in the off-hours,
be tender to me. Also let me eat
the meals you do not finish
so I can acclimate, climb into
the way you claim this world.
Once, I followed married men:
eager for shelter, my fur
curled, my lust
I called out, Grief.
They heard, Beauty.
I called out, Why?
They said, Because I can and will.
One smile could sustain me for a week.
I was that hungry. Lithe and giddy,
my skin carried the ether of a so-so
self-esteem. I felt fine. I was
fine, but I was also looking
for scraps; I wanted them all to pet me.
You think because I am a woman,
I cannot call myself a dog?
Look at my sweet canine mind,
my long, black tongue. I know
what I’m doing. When you’re with
the wrong person, you start barking.
But with you, I am looking out
this car window with a heightened sense
I’ve always owned. Oh every animal
knows when something is wrong.
Of this sweet, tender feeling, I was wrong,
and I was right, and I was wrong.