Take this phone face down in its cradle,
the woman there awakened by the bell
that never rings, that sleeps on the table
without the man who broke things off, who calls
back her marriages like abandoned farms
or something cold her mother said. Take
that. Take all the little teeth she frames
in photos, the carpet she pulls in mistaken
hope to bare the beaten slab below.
Or the punished mirror in her trash bin.
Take the stars of every glass she throws
to fate. And so the hour she cannot burn
her hoard of letters but thinks instead of how,
yes, she will buy a dog, something to find
her here this side of the living, for now
there will be another mouth to feed.
And feed it she does: her bones, her hands,
the chest of every pounding door. With each bite,
each morsel of meat she dangles overhead,
there is always a leaping heart to snap it.
And while the dog bears the name of her ex,
she admits nothing, and in weeks to come
he doubles his size, his appetite, the flexing
of her bed, his cry for more blood, more crumbs,
more hide to chew, more squirrels to scatter
with his jaw. For what she does is never
enough to settle the matter, whatever matter
that is, never the thing to douse the fever,
though she cannot give him up, any more
than sacrifice the world they eat. She knows
that now, knows there are nights so mired
in stars and hunger she takes to heart, who’s
to tell him no, no. And the whole yard stirs
to see her bent beneath the day’s fatigue,
a broken gate beside them, her whispering
tenderly into his eyes: bad dog, bad dog.
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