I am a wild dog that has been spurned and tricked
enough times to be suspicious of anyone who whistles for me.
The food they offered was bait to lure me close so
little boys could throw rocks at the ribs
that jutted through my chest.
I starved in every way possible and
I could not bite them-
I was too slow to bite in my youth.
Another child offered me food and did not move fast enough to dodge-
my yellow teeth as they sank into their hand and I tasted blood,
but my hunger was still not quenched, and I still do not know
if they held a rock within the pocket of their jacket,
and that uncertainty keeps the guilt away on cold nights,
There is something wrong with me,
where my fur falls out in patches and
I run in front of cars on the highway to reach
the other side for reasons I can’t explain.
I was born with no shame and learned it
painfully in my old, dog-year age
through pack tactics while cornered in metal kennels.
I am hungry.
But somewhere in my hunger my teeth grew dull from chewing
on bones of want and scraps of love I found in dark alleyways before
I could be scared off.
I seek companionship and crave a gentle hand so badly
it outweighs my hunger and I
show my belly and
sometimes, still, I find more rocks.
But I am more than my teeth. I am more than my hunger.
I am more than my bruises and wounds, even if some still bleed
I am callused paws and big dark eyes
I am fierce and fanged and much too eager to please
in hopes of something more than a morsel of desire.
I am feral and desperate, but I am learning to be good.
I am good. Tell me I am good.