Domestic Beast

For a time I learned to want nothing, which
is how to be a woman. Then I prepared
the small monsters of my mind.

(In my dream, my son and I are safe in the orchard,
a black snake draped over our shoulders.
We are sweet with apples)

(In my dream, a blue salamander follows me
through a flooded subway, hides in the cuff
of my jeans)

(In my dream, I have murdered a girl by cutting
her throat and I am afraid you will find
her body in the woods beneath oak leaves)

I have the head of a wolf, a woman’s body.
The head of a goat and rough fingers.
Sometimes, a dappled fawn,

a doe dead in the empty woods. Sometimes
the hunter’s orange cap, warm truck.
Sometimes the gun.

A woman is made of sheetcake, spun sugar, dirt.
In this dream the chickens have pinned the rat
in the corner of the coop. Soon there will be nothing but bones.

Sara Quinn Rivara is the author of Animal Bride (Tinderbox Editions) and Lake Effect (Aldrich Press). Her poems have recently been published or are forthcoming in Cherry Tree, Gigantic Sequins, Crab Creek Review, Dunes Review, West Branch and many other places. A Great Lakes native, she now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She can be found at

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