PORTRAIT OF THE DALMATIAN THAT BIT MY MOTHER
Because someone forgot to lock that fence.
Because of all the shapes, I came in the shape
of rage. Because I carry July
in my skin. Because every pair of hands handles me
violently. Because my mouth is most my beastliness.
Because Grendel must have also hated chains—
must have also howled at the tall silhouettes.
Because the birds looked
the other way, but weren’t troubled enough to flee. Because
the thigh was pincushion soft and seemed defenseless
as an abandoned beehive.
Because I didn’t think her hands could hold so much
her son was nearby.
Because No—dumb dog I’ll kill you if you don’t get away
from my child. Because he is still tender. Because
the antonym of bite is kiss and she kisses him
every day. Because
breaking the skin of a mother
only means putting your mouth
to a muscle that tightens a universe
of danger into a single soon-to-snap