We call it “kisses”
but it’s really a tongue
that probes up into my ear
into my nose
and I swear he can taste snot
and just on the other side of my revulsion
I realize the strange contract
—the lupine ritual—
fulfilled in slow time:
time on my lap,
on the couch, licking his paw
after a walk…

Saliva, germs, intimacy, immediacy, whatever;
kisses mean something different to my chihuahua,
except that they don’t—
behind the lips
behind the teeth
remains the potential of fear
that he could rip my face off
that I could dash him against the wall…

Faces together, born from
the deadliest predators on the planet,
we share our pack—
we define ourselves
in sleek, sharp delineation;
we are “us,” we are friends,
and the rest of the world
will see the teeth and not the tongue—
the rest of the world is meat.

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