Claim

Morris Arboretum cherriesOnce during that year
when all I wanted
was to be anything other
than what I was,
the dog took my wrist
in her jaws. Not to hurt
or startle, but the way
a wolf might, closing her mouth
over the leg of another
from her pack. Claiming me
like anything else: the round luck
of her supper dish or the bliss
of rabbits, their infinite
grassy cities. Her lips
and teeth circled
and pressed, tireless
pressure of the world
that pushes against you
to see if you’re there,
and I could feel myself
inside myself again, muscle
to bone to the slippery
core where I knew
next to nothing
about love. She wrapped
my arm as a woman might wrap
her hand through the loop
of a leash—as if she
were the one holding me
at the edge of a busy street,
instructing me to stay.

(From Keeper. Also published on Public Radio International’s Writer’s Almanac.)

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