After she had swallowed him
completely (taste of soap-chalk,
ammonia, her mouth smelling
like water, like a dog’s mouth),
she forgot the vows and how
she got there — the stranger’s
kohl eyes leading her
to the broom closet and his hands
festooned with rings.
After all, her husband was a stray dog–
in the yard he carried a mirror
on his back, his eyes flowering.
He spent his days in the city
snapping at bees, getting his nose stung.
In the evening, he returned
with a mouth full of fur.
Sundays, she watched him
in the garden swallowing sticks,
his own arms, dragging
his rear legs like a wedding gown.
To him, daffodils were now
a bouquet of knives. He snarled,
shook his head, left, right, an impatient
bride, tried to see himself
in the mirror on his back
like the bride reaching behind herself
for the last button.
Finally, at a cocktail
party, he politely leaned over
and bit the wrist of a neighbor.
She passed a tray of canapés, saying
“The best thing to do is take him
out behind the barn and shoot him!”
A tinkling of laughter, then doom.
Her bangs flipping back like tidal waves.
Truth is: she had been his wife
two hours when she selected
a new lover– what was his name?
( In the cramped dark fumbling,
smell of chlorine, and entire forest
of brooms falling) When they were
through, a bare bulb exposed
the tiny room: he wore a beard, and
in the janitor’s sink he washed
his hands over and over again
like a raccoon.
Rabid Dog first appeared in Post Road , Vol. 3, pg 45.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Sarah Messer
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse