the briar round the rose

We walk. Through sandburs and puncture vines.
she’s silent when she lifts her paw.
she doesn’t cry or whimper
Halted in mid air by a beast no larger than a pea
But encircled in pins
she doesn’t know but
Dogs can’t understand full sentences
“baby, you have a sticker in your foot?”
she looks mournfully.
“come, here and I will pull it out”
she shows me her sad face
“Oh, I see two, then?”
she waits for me to cover the distance.
I wear thick gloves and carry tweezers.
The thorns slide off into my gloves
Looking like some weapon of war
Or the seed of the sweet gum tree shrunken.

“all gone.”
she remains motionless, a stone statue.
“what? Lemme look again.”
she lifts her paw like a horse being shod.


“baby, it’s all gone.”
I check for any remaining barbs.
I tap ‘O’ and ‘K’ onto soft paws pads in sign language
Like a scene from the Helen Keller play.
she gives me that weird bared tooth laugh.

And she’s off. The rabbit hunt is on.
The thorns forgotten.

How easy that was.

I hold my heart in my gloved hands.
I tap my ribs.

O and K. OK. OK?

It’s not listening.
a single broken fiber optic.
One broken link, and it’s all dark.
dark wrapped in dark and thorns.

for SS

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