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Always an Animal at the End of the Leash photo

The dead won’t stay dead.
They keep spilling back into our mouths,
I’ve been picking soil from my teeth.
My dog keeps biting me when he’s scared
and, like anyone, is always scared.
When he licks the peanut-butter-
coated Xanax from my finger
I feel a range of splinters behind his lips:
little bone-knives, wound-makers.
I think giving new names to things that hurt us
could make it harder to be hurt by them,
I’ve been developing this irrational fear
that all my fears are rational.
Sometimes I want to be a dream
playing in someone else’s sleep
but keep waking to the same self.
Notice how this skin becomes a map?
Pain-atlas, globe-of-errors.
We’re cartographers of our loss here,
we feeders-of-the-mouths-that-bite-us,
those who love too much and won’t let go.
See my hands: I’m not tough, I just scar easily.
Tell me when to let go.


image: Aaron Burch