Dogs in the gully are slow to rot.
Their corpses rigor, insects ripple fur,
my hands part a veil of flies.
Mongrels are no match for the gardener’s
light touch on his rifle. His devotion
to our hens slickens my heart, itches
in the back of my neck.
A boy and I scrabble behind the rusted
oil tank, its belly hollowed
like the dogs. We shade a magazine’s
waxy pages from the sun. His nose drips
a summer cold, his tongue pokes
a lozenge. He wheezes winter,
The woman in the picture sits
as I sometimes sit in my dad’s easy
chair, leg hitched over the cushioned
arm. Behind her, statues and trinkets
clutter a bookcase, a lamp drips
scarves. Her blouse gapes peachy
breasts that make my lips chew.
The boy points to her sheered
pelt, her thighs’ open sesame;
even in a photo it trembles
like an animal just trained to heel.
That’s what you’re gonna look like.
How will I master her languid
disinterest, slung angles and bored
eyes? Already it’s hard to swallow
without gurgling; and the prickly
warmth of the boy’s shoulder taunts
me to tumble on him as he licks
a finger to unstick the page.
To slow the blood in my throat,
blot the sweat between my legs,
I think of how the woman must
be old: antique desk, glasses folded
at her collar, knickknacks
on the shelf, the fussy whorl
of scarves. She is not a girl
in cut-offs and ratty flip-flops,
who too often imagines
the gardener’s shirt taut at the sight
of a feral bitch, steady hands
loading his rifle, snapping
the gun like a length of silk,
fixing to tie a wild dog in knots.
Copyright © Nancy Lee. Originally published in subTerrain (#80: Margins).
Nancy Lee is the author of Dead Girls, a collection of stories and The Age, a novel. Her poetry most recently appeared in The Puritan, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Fiddlehead and The Malahat Review. She lives in Steveston, BC with her husband, the author John Vigna.
subTerrain is published 3 times a year from modest offices just off of Main Street in Vancouver, BC. We strive to produce a stimulating fusion of fiction, poetry, photography and graphic illustration from uprising Canadian, U.S. & International writers and artists.
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