Actually it’s ridiculous to opine on what kind
of a dog I would be, were I ever a dog, as I don’t
contain within me half enough life to power
a dog. I WOULD BE A DEAD DOG, THAT’S
WHAT KIND, or maybe a mere industrial object
boasting a low-grade animation, some odd beep
or flicker, like a dryer or a bulb. So, sure, I could
be a reluctant bulb, the only one still offering light
in an otherwise burnt-out fixture bolted
hard to a row house porch. And all those moths,
with no other place to die. Can’t they murder
themselves on someone else? Can’t they absent
their numbers to the Great North, where there’s
only dark, live out their weeks untempted by
glare, die when they’re made to, trouble no orb?
Regarding Heaven, the same fight over
and over. The body rejoins its parts, so what
of the rib? Is it ripped from Eve, and Adam whole
in death? I was posed this question by a former
dancer, injured enduringly from bending
to women. He said WE CANNOT HAVE IT, BOTH, and
screwed like a crowd in which he was trying
to lose me. I remember that country bathroom,
shower curtain printed in Antique Wall:
wheels and bonneted women and in each corner
the cross-stitch clamor WELCOME HOME.
In those old hotels, I was always afraid
someone would need sudden measures. TO WHOM
DO YOU ADMINISTER CPR? THE LIVING BUT NOT
BREATHING. THE LIVING BUT NOT BREATHING.
Say it thirty times. If you don’t break
anything, you’re doing it wrong.
Natalie Shapero is the author of the poetry collection No Object, and her writing has appeared in The Believer, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Progressive, and elsewhere. She lives in Columbus, Ohio and works as an Associate Editor of the Kenyon Review.