DOUGIE’S SISTER EXPOSES HERSELF
He peed outside his house, in the narrow passage
next to where the Iranian family lived,
because his family’s bathroom was too dirty.
His sister, Marlee, yelled at us to come inside
because their dog, Butchie, died right then,
on his side, next to the coffee table, an incurable
string of yellow spittle from his mouth,
still wet (later we touched it), which made you think
Butchie just needed a breather from chasing rabbits
and would get back up. Marlee walked around
the living room looking for a pack of matches
in nothing but her boyfriend’s work shirt,
twice her size. She scratched her hair as if to start
a fit—that shirt rose and revealed everything,
and I nearly missed it, scared by the common jangle
of her father, the truck driver, wide awake and rasping
down the hall because we played Nazareth too loud.
I knew he had come back from a week on the road
because his cab was parked sideways on their lawn.
How could anyone tell this man his dog just died?
Dougie and I went back outside so he could finish.
My feet raved through clusters of leaves, the truck
tires taller than me, and Dougie stared
at the siding as he pissed against his own house,
angled three-quarters away from me.
I tried to remember Marlee’s shirt ascending again,
slower this time, proud of its sleight-of-hand,
revealing, I thought, a G-clef—not flesh or lips,
but a wayward punctuation mark below the swoosh
of her denim shirt, its pitch beyond me
and what was left in their living room, Penthouses
and ash trays scattered on the glass coffee table top,
some poker chips, Butchie dead, a crusted shot glass,
empty Coke can, a Mott the Hoople album
someone forgot to put back in its sleeve.
—from Rattle #29, Summer 2008