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.