“Let me cuddle with a dog I don’t even know.”
—bathroom stall graffiti
Let stray cats trust their matted hides to my hand.
May the next squirrel kit who falls
from tulip poplar to leaf bed curl into the kin-
pink of my palm. May houseflies wobble
from windowsills to rest their black-stitch legs
against my own. Let me hold each iridescent gaze.
And let me lie, somehow so small, upon the ledge
above the porch, where a sparrow often sleeps
through squally dark. When I open the screen door,
she’ll fly, shocked by its unoiled cry, into rain.
But if I spoke her language of soft whistles,
offered my breast for batten, my arms,
might she believe at least this stranger,
at least tonight, means no harm?
Melissa Crowe is the author of Dear Terror, Dear Splendor (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019); her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, and Seneca Review, among other journals. She’s coordinator of the MFA program at UNCW and co-editor of Beloit Poetry Journal.