We are driving when we notice
the punctures through the bag dog,
our conversations of school shootings
becoming commonplace, taken from a pile
of things we don’t say.
How cautious we are with
our accidental knives of concern
how relevant the thing is blowing
in the air,
the thing we can’t name hung up
on a fence of searching—
its twig arms angry.
Over the road we are running like the conversation,
and it keeps getting more worrisome
to hear our kids’ stammer, the backseat heave,
their normal, their new fears and tatters,
the bag dog catching our attention,
the shifting of things not allowed
to exist everyday out loud. To be normal.
To be acceptable. To be a bag dog is to
be unreal, to allow chronic stress to be breakfast.
The littlest voice says, ‘Someone should take
it down.’ I ask, ‘What?’ But know.
It’s the disquieting rattle of it, always
as we confront this with the windows down.
It’s not as it seems. It’s a black mass
of wire in the corners of our eyes; its
a black bag when we stare straight.
After each pause we go faster
but don’t notice and can’t remember
which it is,
if our senses deceive us or
if our imaginations are loose.
The bag dog can’t exist, but it must
because we pass it everyday,
the rag beside the
road that forms its awkward limbs
like a cancer cell mutating into
what is left of our day.