S. A. McDonald

My Heart is Like a Dog 

I said to someone recently that I’m not very invested in life.

I think I meant to say that I’m tired of myself.

Outside the window is a tree I don’t know the name of

and it exhausts me, this not knowing. I want to be curious

about the tree; I want to drive, walk maybe, down the road

to touch its bark, to search for the last fallen leaves

so I can look it up in the dusty field guide on my bookshelf.

Instead, I sit on this couch watching ghosts

snaking in and out of the trembling branches;

the cold suicidal heads of Queen Anne’s lace

attempting to snap their own bony necks in the distance;

fog roping the breath out of the brown hills and pines

until they become a blur and choke on themselves;

thick ashen clouds lining up like battleships

in the distance, everything is in the distance,

except the power lines slicing through it all

like an abandoned railway made of razor blades

not even the birds will touch. I want to be curious

about the tree. I want to wrap my arms around it

like a five-year-old, I want to climb to the top,

feel as free as the swirling leaves, unstoppable as garbage

racing down the sidewalks and streams of the world.

My knees ache for movement, for desire,

and my heart is like a dog expecting every time

to lick the bowl when my mind is done with it.

S.A. McDonald currently studies higher education at Penn State and works at Penn State’s LGBTQA Student Resource Center. She holds an MFA in poetry from George Mason University and lives in State College, Pennsylvania.