I couldn’t help thinking about Rufus,
barely seven months old, a baby
alone in a cage, cold, stinging
from the knife, his crotch a battle
of stitches, poor baby.
Kathy, the vet’s girlfriend, assured me
she’d propped his favorite bone-shaped
fleece under his head. She said he was fine.
Frankie’s tongue started up a teasing
staccato of shivers down my spine.
Poor Rufus, never to feel that perfect, final thrust.
Kathy said, This one client comes in with his dog,
just weeping, and we figure he’s beside himself
because he has to put down his dog.
But he’s just there to get the dog fixed.
I fixed my eyes on Frankie, and pulled
his hips into mine. It’s something
about men, Kathy said, like it’s happening
to them, you can picture them grabbing
their own balls in sympathy. Rufus wasn’t
his dog, so Frankie kept kissing me.
But all I could taste was brine, grieving
for what Rufus would
never get or give. Poor dog.
Elizabeth Rees is the author of Every Root a Branch (Codhill Press, 2014) and three chapbooks: Tilting Gravity, winner of the Codhill Chapbook Award; Now That We’re Here, winner of the Spire Press Chapbook Prize; and Balancing China, which won the Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Prize. She was a finalist for Nimrod‘s 2018 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her poetry has appeared in The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. She has taught creative writing and literature at Macalester College, Boston College, Boston University, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Johns Hopkins University. In addition, she has served as a consulting writer and editor to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Museums’ Travelling Exhibitions, and PBS. She works as a poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council and conducts poetry workshops for adults at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. (updated 10/2018)