Picking Up the Dog from the Spay and Neuter Clinic

Anna B. Sutton

We argue. You tell me
she’ll be fine in the bed
of the truck; I want her
in the cab with us. I start
to cry; I win
the argument. You tell me
I can’t keep trying to control
everything and I laugh against
the passenger window because
there is so little that I have
a handle on. The dog
pisses the seat. At home,
I turn her over, examine her
shaved belly. I had expected the wound
to be bigger. Three whole organs
slipped through a two-inch incision—
the end of the line. I had expected
love to be more clearly defined—
a contour drawing in black
permanent marker. What is
the outer edge? The farthest from each other
any two points can be and still
be a part of one single thing?
What is the clearest way to tell you
that my love is an oversized shoe—
a poor fit? A pain?
How many times do I need
to explain the difference
between depressed and depression
before you understand why I’m so afraid
of leaving our someday children
in a parking lot? Why I envy the dog? Listen.
When I was young, my father had to bury
four of our dalmatian’s weakest puppies
under my tree fort. Now, all I can think of,
all I can see—someone else’s children
playing house on the bones.

ANNA B. SUTTON is the cofounder of the Porch Writers’ Collective and Web Editor at One Pause Poetry. She received her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and her BFA from the Appalachian Center for Craft (real place). Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Barrow Street, Weave, Pinch, DIAGRAM, and other journals. In 2013, she received a James Merrill Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center.