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Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

For My Daughter, When She Starts Dating

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I replace one crush with another
stand on the edge of my body
& wait.
I just take the original letter & re-write it
so many times, I forget for whom it was written.
Does it matter?
Do I hope they remember, hope they keep
pulling horsehair from their coat until
someone else offers to
take that gorgeous animal off my hands?
It’s just a matter of who keeps bringing my animal home
& I can do that.
I can do that.

Step Out

It has been ages
two babies
two continents
two marriages
one divorce
since I’ve talked to
the unhinged door
in the field of
my bodies
I’ve laid down
each one
like a cup
on the backs of
I once wanted to
them to myself
like a
saint who
every robe
I would have
to my own
it has been
how to count
the wounds
I wore to cover
each of my
in the field of
their horses
I once wanted
to keep
every man
who hurt me
please give me just one unhinged door to walk through

The Time He Killed a Working Dog

My father’s roommate taught me about the fun house
of man’s need & maybe forgiveness
when I buried the ruined dog.


He liked them young & sold
bird dogs on the side. English
Pointers, Irish Setters. The roommate
kept them in cages. Not to be loved on.


It ruins them. He kept dirty
magazines near the toilet. You wanna see
what a real woman looks like?


Dripping wet from a bath,
I pulled the blonde one out, fresh
citrus of her coat about to shake.


There’s this dream I have where
the roommate stands over me, laughing.
I could be thirty-two or ten. A girl
or grown. There’s another


naked woman, glossy, paper
pressed to my face
on a powder-blue tile floor.

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