Like A Gift

Reese Conner

In this dream, I’m still hugging his body

in the front yard, hiding him

from the neighbor’s dog

who sees him as a movement

to be stopped. I can feel his instinct

urge against captivity, his skeleton

bubbling to the surface – bone and claw

and fear bottled in my arms. I wonder

if I am different than the dog to him.

I wonder at what moment his instinct

to run from the dog becomes an instinct

to run from me, and I wonder, too,

how many monsters suffocate

the things they love, and how many

call it kindness. I know, I know

it’s not quite so simple, but

it shouldn’t be so obvious, either –

the notion that a man may keep a thing

from its own instincts on the basis

of good intentions and the power

to impose them. And I know, I know

the dog just wants to see what’s inside,

and gnashing with a fistful of teeth

is the only way she knows to find out.

Still, I wonder if she comprehends

permanence, that, when she’s done,

she’ll never get to unwrap him,

like a gift, again.

Reese Conner received his M.F.A. from Arizona State University, where he has continued to teach composition and poetry workshops. His work appears or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, Rattle, Ninth Letter, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere. Reese is an Assistant Poetry Editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal. He received the Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award, and a Chili Pepper from Rate My Professor. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.