Nancy Mitchell, an internationally known poet, is a 2012 recipient of the prestigious Pushcart Prize and author of The Near Surround, Grief Hut, and The Out-of-Body Shop, collections that have earned praise from celebrated poets Gerald Stern and Jean Valentine among others. She publishes widely in acclaimed journals such as Agni, Green Mountains Review, and Washington Square Review and has been awarded national and international artist residencies. Mitchell taught Creative Writing at Salisbury University from 1996-2012, served on selecting guest writers for the Writers on the Shore Reading Series, and instituted and directed the annual fine-arts festival, WORDSTOCK. Long a resident of Wicomico County, she has worked in community outreach within a diverse demographic of ages from 6 to 80 years in the Maryland Summer Center for the Arts, Girls Innovative Academy and Writing for Wellness Workshops. She teaches poetry workshops for CELL at Salisbury University and is an Editor for Special Features for Plume Poetry.
Animals Who Have Known Me
No dog ever followed me home—or cat
for that matter—unless I lured them
block by block with pieces of Slim Jim
or licks from my Dreamsicle. Even then
it was the halt, wall-eyed and ailing,
flea-bitten and ring-wormed, ribs
like sheets of corrugated tin.
Slowly they strengthened with meat
my mother reluctantly pilfered
from my father’s plate. I named them all
after her. Their coats thickened and shone
like my father’s spit-shined army boots
after one hundred nightly brush strokes.
They grew cocky and bold with lies
I whispered into the furred canyons
of their ears: You are the toughest,
sharp-toothed dog in all of Morehead
City, or the fiercest hellcat of cats.
Now and then I’ll see some of them
between alleys and although I call
Marie, Marie, Marie they turn
their heads away or look me dead
in the eye as if they never knew me.