In the summers before we were women,
we snuck through the walls with the farm puppies.
We found hips with the youth chased out, an
old kitchen still ripe with genesis and dust.
We found our mouths could touch without kissing
and pulled at the ticks blooming on dogs’ bellies,
butterscotch jewels toughening with their blood—
guns and puppies and my gold colored shoes.
I pressed my ear against one body. Its shining skin
with the ticks hanging off, black mouth and
steaming tongue, all that goddamn humming
. In supermarket tanks the dark lobsters would pile
their crowding bodies on top of each other and we
would wonder if they even knew that the others
were alive. We brought the rifles, but forgot
to clean them. We forgot a lot of things. Someday,
I will finally understand why Slim shot that dog.
Why we opened stalls and found mother spaniels
with silver braces cupped deep inside their cheeks.
We pushed our mouths against the warm backs
of those babies. If you go down deep enough,
we thought, you eventually have to get emptiness.
We kept our eyes open, girls and puppies and
the sore muscles of God, licked our canine teeth.
Then we shot all of the branches from a tree
that was already dead, and I showed the puppies
little bubbles of air inside the metal shells. Our lips
pressed together but we never kissed, even once
. We were too busy looking for all of those bullets