Taming the Dog

Kristen Tracy

We hope it’s a safe and restful holiday for you and your loved ones. In that spirit, we’re sharing Kristen Tracy’s poem from Issue 112, “Taming the Dog”:

Your dog arrives at my open window

filled with advice. He sees how I trim the beans

and complains. He believes the way I tenderize

my lamb is an abomination. The neck may be tough,

but in my house we use everything. We hang

our laundry. We beat our rugs and there is joy.

Last night, he caught me pruning the magnolia tree,

appeared beneath my ladder, fur holding the light

of a whole moon, and he mocked me

with his little dog paws. Why would a dog want

to insult a woman underneath the moon like that?

Wednesday. Thursday. What about me

makes your dog want to arrive? He appears all the time.

Practically walking through walls. And when he sniffs

the air in front of me, it’s as if he’s taking me apart.

His snout an instrument. His wet nose combs me. And yes,

he brings his own blanket of smell. Off, boy. Off.

A dog needs rules. There’s no shame in that.

When a woman says “stay,” she craves obedience.

At the sound of her voice, she wants to watch

that animal fall like a stone into the grass.

Kristen Tracy is a poet and an author of children’s and young adult books. Her first book of poetry, Half-Hazard, was published by Graywolf Press in 2018.

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