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My faith in dogs is a
purple bruise

Rachel R. Baum

I would bury your heart, if I could, after what you did to mine,

for wasn’t I a dog once, follower of Sirius, my star, my mentor

my gentle spirit animal, no longer true, and never would be again.


Your cavernous pink and black mouth, reaching, meant to intimidate,

and it did; you spoke a dialect that I, translator of all things canine,

interpreter of the language of dogs, could not parse.


A lexicon, sharp as the snap of your teeth, bring it on your wild eyes said,

surely not back off, you ripped at my shirt, already biting, to run

would surely incite chase, a turned back a gaping invitation.


I recognized my voice, hoarse, and hoarser still, did I scream or plead?

bargain with you, or with God? every squeeze of your mouth

on my arm, engulfed my limb as no prayer could.


Your teeth drilled into the underground soil of purpling flesh,

flayed it raw; you tasted my bloodied arms, hands, and legs,

had I fallen, you would have feasted on my throat.


I imagined my own dog, shredded and near death, the attack took on

a dizzy orange haze of grief. I understand clearly now: whatever I thought

I once was is no longer true, and never will be again.

Rachel R. Baum is the editor of Funeral and Memorial Service Readings Poems and Tributes (McFarland, 1999). Her poems have appeared in The Raven’s Perch, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, OneArt, Poetica Review, Jewish Literary Journal, and others. She is the author of the long running blog BARK! Confessions of a Dog Trainer. She lives in upstate New York with her dog Tennyson. For more information, visit

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