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Which means I've started watching YouTube
clips from the local dog shelter in the city
I was sure I'd burned behind us. Familiar
never pushes in its chair or leaves the table

quiet. We live in a box. At night, I lock us
inside & hope no one breaks in, or out.
Sometimes, pre-sleep, I spin scenarios
of what might happen. My sons never make it

to college or marriage or fatherhood.
I try to imagine how my whole life has passed
& only this year have I noticed my own

pigeon-toed stride. Parked, I'm stalking
my oldest boy as he walks from school
to his friend's, where they'll sit, chillin'
& smokin' blunts all day
. & so love saunters

dumbly away. No glancing back. This is it:
the dream where I'm screaming underwater
or trying to punch some bitch in the face.
Voiceless. Armless. Careo—in need of, free

from, without
. A kenneled dog comes closer
to the word for missing than this dead language
I'm learning, in this house where no one speaks.

- Lisa Fay Coutley (from Ninth Letter)