“Misplaced Affections” by Sinclaire Dickinson

A golden retriever of a woman
just met and she’s practically shedding
in your lap
she steps away from packing her
overstuffed bag
well-meaning but not seeing boundaries that should go unsaid
tells you she’s consolidating all she collected at
and the Vero outlet

She’s a Sagittarius
maybe gifts are their language of love?
presents to present to her family when she lands back home:
plastic-wrapped trinkets
that we pretend have meaning
the joke is on her children who may still be here when
the landfills spill out these
expressions of affection

It’s not her fault, it’s how we were taught to connect
and she’s nicer and better than I am
as I judge someone I don’t know closely
curled up like a cobra waiting to launch
out from the corner
of this pristinely landscaped lawn

Meanwhile golden retrievers are an American poster pet
but if you inbreed them too long the qualities we select
because they are cute
begin to mutate
that which we create kills quieter
than the venom I sink
into your carry-on

Sinclaire Dickinson is a yoga instructor and humane education student. In her writing and studies, she explores how we might become more conscious of our daily experiences, however mundane, and cultural norms, however grand.

Photo by Ilya Ilford on Unsplash

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