It’s not the initial prick but the pain
of separation, the tearing of the barbs,
that makes me howl and come nosing around
for you the next morning. I’m a sucker
for sweetness. I fell for your black eyes
and those long brown teeth. But your soft mane
deceived me. I leaned in too close and was hooked.
Now I’ll gnaw bark, climb a tree if I have to,
scratch the itch under your chin ‘til you
agree to that slow shamble down the aisle.
I know loving you requires a different
kind of protection. I’ll wear canvas
and cow hide, and when we kiss, you’ll rub
my face raw. We’ll bed down under cedars,
inhale sweet rot. Then your quills will break
off under my skin, migrate to my heart.
Kathryn Almy is a Michigan writer. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New Verse News, The 3288 Review, the anthology Immigration and Justice for Our Neighbors, Great Lakes Review‘s narrative map, and City of the Big Shoulders: A Chicago Poetry Anthology, among other publications.