Her ripped red frock
on the wet lawn, her inside
it. She knew years had passed
since the woolly caterpillars.
Her mother’s lips still the color
of the yew berries that could not
be eaten in threes & then there
was the boy who wanted if only
she missed with her cherry
bombs. She went to the copse
behind her house, it had arms.
She was her dress. And then
there was the dog & the dog
understood. He hated the bow
holding his neck together, he knew
the clawed halls of her own. So
he fed her crabapples, mashed
them soft with his mouth & when
she could walk again he doctored
her with the undersink chemicals,
nosed the cabinet door open –
she happily sucked their nozzles,
pumped their levers, she gained
strength, her mouth opened
& closed now, if slowly. He took
her to the party with the polio
children, she daintily licked each
of their half-eaten cakes when
proffered by his black paw. Then
her arms! She shoved her stuffed
animals against the wall
& demanded alibis, the dog said
for their own sakes, he slammed
his head’s black gavel against hers
& declared everyone innocent
of every crime. She was overcome.
The dog crawled under the porch
& she dragged her small body
along. She mulched herself in
with the dog gone flimsy & wet,
she ate from his warm belly to help
with the growing. She grew.

Brittany Cavallaro