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The Beheading

by Katie Reigel

I protect my readers from the worst, as if they are young children asking what happened to the cat. There, I did it again, not saying dog, my dog hit by a car when I was too young, and the neighbor woman, terrifying, intercepting me on my walk home from a friend’s to tell me about it. I dressed that dog in my own clothes and he stood for as long as I wanted. I told him what I told no one else—even though the older boy made me promise not to tell anyone, ever. Every dog since carries my secret like a collar. It is because of this that I cannot burden you with the images that hurt me most, dogs neglected and abused in the worst ways, and me every time lying as if flayed, or filleted, spread open long before I was ready. Only sometimes now I imagine the hurter of dogs with justice rendered, a quick slice with a sharp sword, head severed from dangerous body forever.

About Katie Reigel

Katie Riegel is the author of Letters to Colin Firth, What the Mouth Was Made For, and Castaway. Her work has appeared in Brevity, The Gettysburg Review, The Offing, Orion, Poets.org, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and poetry editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection. Find her at www.katherineriegel.com.