Taupe dappled with furry sienna
mapped itself over her legs
and crown. When my father
called us in from the garden, she
barked, ran first: she knew
how to yield. So no one expected
to hear, weeks later, my brother’s voice rise
like a storm-shredded cloud, to feel
the wide-eyed nerve of belonging
prick and swell
to a nervous attention, to see
his face, heaving like a battered moon,
a mess of tears on the staircase, blood
striped across his white tee-shirt
like poppies seizing a snow-covered field.
The next morning, a neighbor took her away—
I knew then not to ask
any questions. My father bandaged
the wounds, four bite-marks. I
dug a hole in the yard for her toys.
My family learned then not to trust
innocence, to believe that affection
could always break skin. And I started doing
what I’ve done ever since,
what a child does. I buried things.
About the Author:
Matthew Gellman is a recent graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he received an Academy of American Poets prize and the Frances Steloff Poetry Prize. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Poetry Quarterly, Word Riot, Two Peach, Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight, and several other publications. Matthew currently lives in New York City and is an MFA candidate at Columbia University.