Rage Hezekiah is a Cave Canem and MacDowell Fellow, who earned her MFA from Emerson College. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets 2017, and her poems have appeared in Fifth Wednesday, Columbia Poetry Review, The Cape Rock, and Mud Season Review, as well as other journals and anthologies. The forthcoming collection Nasty Women Poets: An Anthology of Subversive Verse will also feature her work. You can find more about her writing at ragehezekiah.com.
You pull the ball from the jowls of our dog,
his tightened teeth clenched against
a round, familiar form. Let it go, you say,
I understand his resistance. Hind claws
piercing the mud in the dooryard, his hinged jaw
determined to keep what he’s earned.
Your pas de deux, a proximal tug of war
is a mirror, the relentless grip of his maxilla
and mandible, fixed on baring down.
Life asks me to release my grasp, to trust,
and I remain unwilling. Even daily meditation
won’t relieve my fear— I’m trained to fight.
Knowing you won’t win this, I stand beside you,
rest my face on your shoulder, my palm pressed
at the small of your back. Just let him have it,
I say, and watch your hand bloom open.
At the corner of the orchard, he holds
the ragged orb firm between two paws, regal
holding court. He gnaws the prize
he’s won, satisfied. Who are we
to teach him any different?