Poem: Joint Portrait

By Jane Marla Robbins, September 2019

My new dog looks goofy,
and is smart.
I can do that.
And I do.

He can look well-groomed
and a mess.
Just like me.

People mistake him for a girl he’s so
pearly, pretty, fluffy. People take me
for a girl too, although before my nose job
The New York Times declared me

Dancer’s hair—wiry, crazy, curly,
is like mine when I was little
and my mother could barely comb it,
ripping out the knots,
my tears a wall down my face.

As for Dancer’s tangled curls, thick
with foxtails, burrs and twigs,
I cut them out with scissors.
Painless. Progress.

Some days, my own hair, unruly, fluffy,
carries with it, down even to the roots,
my Mother’s dark opinion that it, and I,
aren’t pretty. And not good enough.

But yesterday, first time, a stranger,
pointing at my dog, said
“Fluffy! Beautiful!” and then at me,
“You too. Fluffy. Beautiful!”

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 98: Summer 2019