I dream, too. In this dream, Judy’s rage ruffles the quiet cut-outs of her collar. Madame! she shouts at the teen mother whose boyfriend’s Pitbull bites. First the boyfriend and his infected tattoo. Then his five kids. Then the biting dog. My mother’s telling Judy about her girlhood mutt, Shadow, a dark cannonball rolling across the dim light of memory. I see her patent leather shoes, round-toed, pumping, as she chases Shadow over hills and onto someone’s picnic feast, one paw deep in the center of a chocolate cake, a fried chicken leg clamped in his jaw. He should have been on a leash! Judy says. Their laughter pocks lilac trees that open and bloom. I’m old now; Mother’s my child, just like real life. Our home, many homes before, teeters, a teacup on the saucer of the lawn. Her bed, pale blue in the haze, yawns wide. Buy me a dog, she says, reaching for me in our long-ago kitchen.
Tina Barry is the author of Beautiful Raft (Big Table Publishing, 2019) and Mall Flower (Big Table Publishing, 2016). Her work appears in numerous anthologies including The Best Small Fictions 2020 (spotlighted story) and 2016, Nasty Women Poets, and A Constellation of Kisses. Her poetry and fiction can be found in Drunken Boat, Inch Magazine, the Lascaux Review, Muddy River Review, The American Poetry Journal, and Yes, Poetry. Tina is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has had several Best of the Net nods. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Long Island University, Brooklyn. In addition to Writers.com, Tina is a teaching artist at The Poetry Barn and Gemini Ink.