Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood


Each Saturday morning my daughter becomes
a puppy. This continues for an hour or more,
before and after our breakfast.

The story is always the same. We find her at the back door.
She has walked and walked alone from a faraway place,
usually Boston. She is dog-tired.

We bring her inside but my husband is afraid,
not having grown up with animals. I pet her
and ask, "Can we keep her?"

We have to teach him about her, how never to touch
her face or pull her tail. He does this, of course,
repeatedly. It's part of the game.

Occasionally, she gives birth
to puppies of her own, placing small stuffed dogs
at her belly and curling around them.

After a while , she turns back
into a little girl again,
and we go about our day.

Jane Carroll is a writer and editor for a nonprofit organization, as well as a freelance writer. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. This is her first published poem.

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Nicely done, Jane. It's funny how powerful these games/scenarios are for kids. We have one, always played when our daughter is in the bathtub, in which she runs a pet store at the outskirts of a carnival and I am there looking for an unusual pet--a lobster--which she just happens to have with her in the tub. I pretend to be afraid at first that the lobster will pinch me, but she shows me that he's actually harmless because she's trained him. What does it mean? I don't know for sure, but we've been repeating it with only slight variation for about three years now.
What a wonderful poem--kind, concise, amusing. The repetitive nature of the game is lightly acknowledged as being--well--repetitive, but that absurd repetition also brings comfort, silliness, and delight. Feels so true to parenting. And the ritual of the dog being accepted into the family again and again seems to play a function of creating family identity and union over and over (and over), which made me feel good.
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