They Thought They Could Trust

They Thought They Could Trust


When my dog Henry runs to me, leaps over my legs

and places his red ball in my lap, I want

to scream at him. Doesn’t he know what happened?

I want to yell at him, we elected Donald Trump,

we elected hate. What happened?

until he drops his red ball that somehow contains all

that hate, until he pants and howls and shrinks

away, into one of the many corners, new and dark, and

they are all around and the cold walls skin

my back, walls with cracks that used to form

shapes in my head, animals, and now I want to hold

them, to hold Henry, to dig my fingers into his tangled

fur, and tear his knots apart like I have control. While

police spray ice water onto protesters, water

they need, water they thought they could trust, I

stuff my face with mashed potatoes and taste red

potato skin, red blood in my cheeks, and swallow.

It’s time to give thanks, goddamn it. I buy a new pair

of gloves that night in the beginning of Black

Friday, and when I wear them, I feel like a kid

again, with hands that can hold electricity.

Fingers that snap and spark flames, webbed palms

that can sculpt the air around me, make me

fly, let me take away the very breath behind his

words. I miss my imagination. It made it easy,

thinking I could control the world and its forces—

I didn’t know what it could do.  I could run away

and return from lives as a demigod, an owl, playing

fetch with other realities.  I didn’t realize the powers

I always had. The morning after, everything was still

burning, and I watched my friend, a young black girl

cry silent, angry tears. I always had the power

of a different reality. When I try to take Henry

on a walk, through the park by the empty house

with its door caved in, an unforgiving mouth

that looks like it could eat your heart, makes you wonder

if it has, or if you want it to, he acts afraid

of his harness. He retreats, he doesn’t understand

that to challenge the world with his howling bark,

to take on everything that, unseen, stands

against him and the people he loves,

he must first step into it. 

This poem is about: 
My community
My country
Our world
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