by Meg Caldwell
My mother molded me from flora & clay.
She birthed me into this herd of buffalo.
I look out onto the plains.
My mother pulled a rib from my side,
& gave it to the dog.
He chews on it by the fire
while he gnaws I howl.
My mother walked into a cave.
I have not seen her since.
A large black bear follows me down to the river,
and bats salmon out of the water.
The dog has started wearing my rib around its neck.
When my mother was young
her father guarded their chicken coop from neighborhood dogs.
When the dogs avoided him,
snapped necks within their jaws
he often would retrieve the dead hen
and use rope and wire to hang the corpse around the dog’s neck.
I have never been afraid enough.
My mother makes this clear as she burns me with a cattle prod.
She wears barbed wire around her knuckles & I avoid her.
I cut my hair and place it on the sink next to her toothbrush.
My hair looks like dried grass, my hair looks like corn husks.
My mother molds me from mud & blood.
Meg Caldwell is a poet & essayist from the Midwest. She now lives in Pittsburgh with her black cat Obie. You can follow her on Instagram at megccaldwell.