“The Bite is Always Worse Than the Bark” by Colleen Redman

Worse than being bit
when I was eight years old
was the shame I felt
having to pull up my skirt
and pull down my pants
to show the doctor


Almost as bad as that
were the jokes that followed
and never having a dignified way
to say bum, butt, rear-end or fanny


For years I dreamt of growling dogs
German Shepherds that wouldn’t let me pass
at the school bus stop corner
of Spring Street and Nantasket Ave


I faced them down
Somewhere in my 30s
when my dreams changed from barking dogs
to being lost in strange cities


Worse than being bit
when I was eight years old
was being bit again at 65
being targeted then marked
with a vampire-like imprint
in the same place twice
for no reason


It seems that dog bites can be recurring
like bronchitis or ear infections
and that childhood bogeymen come back and bite
like dreams can bleed into your real life


And when you’re bit in the ass
you have to ask “what is the metaphor
for this chewing out?”
What immunity have I been inoculated against?
What symmetry of destiny?
What betrayal?







Colleen Redman writes and provides photography for The Floyd Press newspaper in Virginia. Her poems have appeared in Mothering Magazine, We’moon Journal, Floyd County Moonshine, and Artemis Journal. Online publications that have featured her poetry include Della Donna, Poetry24, and Clutching at Straws. She blogs daily at looseleafnotes.com. “Dear Abby, How can I get rid of freckles?” was her first published piece at the age of 11.