52 THE MISSOURI REVIEW • FALL 2019
The place we live in has yellow walls and
light switches. We race along the halls,
a machine for washing, a machine for toast.
A host of others take their breakfasts, too,
in houses just like ours, a voice away.
Yes, please, with margarine, I say,
and wake each morning with hatred
in my throat, and snakes, and other
stones I’d like to hurl against my sister.
The linoleum in Mama’s kitchen,
its russet squares, shone with wax
declaring Norwegian industry, or
maybe dread, and stood up to the claws
and shit of our proliferating kittens,
those little missile heads. When Mama
seared my goldfish in sudsy water—
I’d left it in a jar next to the sink—I cried
until she gave me a small blue velvet
box that once kept her wedding ring.
We held the funeral in the garden
Later, it was my job (I believed it was)
to take our collie Kobuck to the vet
to put her down. She was old and
stumbled when she meant to run. I
stood behind the counter while they
took her through a door. She’d turned
to me, her dull brown eyes, a naked
utterance. At home I put the fear
away, or meant to.
Where are they now, those furry
hosts we chased around the house,
their litters born beneath our beds,
their crusted bowls, their famished