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The Dogs and I Walked Our Woods,

By Gretchen Primack

and there was a dog, precisely the colors of autumn,
asleep between two trunks by the trail.
But it was a coyote, paws pink
with a clean-through hole in the left,
and a deep hole in the back of the neck,
dragged and placed in the low crotch
of a tree. But it was two coyotes,
the other's hole in the side of the neck,
the other with a dried pool of blood below
the nose, a dried pool below the anus,
the other dragged and placed
in the adjoining low crook, the other's body
a precise mirror of the first. The eyes were closed,
the fur smooth and precisely the colors
of autumn, a little warm to my touch though the bodies
were not. The fur was cells telling themselves
to spin to keep her warm to stand
and hunt and keep. It was a red
autumn leaf on the forest floor, but
it was a blooded brown leaf, and another, because
they dragged the bodies to create a monument
to domination, to the enormous human,
and if I bore a child who suffered to see this,
or if I bore a child who gladdened to see this, or if
I bore a child who kept walking, I could not bear
it, so I will not bear one.

Added: Monday, July 14, 2014  /  From "Kind" (Post Traumatic Press, 2012). Used with permission.
Gretchen Primack
Photo by Deborah Degraffenreid

Gretchen Primack's poems have appeared in Poet Lore, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, FIELD, Ploughshares, and other journals. She's the author of two poetry collections, Doris' Red Spaces (Mayapple 2014) and Kind (Post-Traumatic Press 2013). Primack has worked as a union organizer, working women's advocate, and prison educator; she currently coordinates an education program for incarcerated women. Also an advocate for non-human animals, she co-wrote The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals (Penguin Avery 2012) with Jenny Brown. She lives in Hurley, NY.

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