Bertha Rogers

Once I was part of a holy beast, I was.
I was a dog, a bear, a horse.
I was the leader and the dragging-led.

My fur was both sleek and shaggy, black and white.
I was as tall as a stallion, long-maned,
yet bony, as deep withered as a dog.

I barked and I whinnied, I growled.
I cantered and I loped, I lumbered.

This was before I was born, before I slid
from the cave, where I was hailed
then demeaned for my unnatural cries.

I rose up—red dog spinning rain, swirling
band of pink. At last they knew me in my corner.
The words they gave left. I barked again.

Bertha Rogers’s poems are published in literary journals and anthologies, and in her collections, the most recent, Heart Turned Back (Salmon Poetry, Ireland). Her new collection, Wild, is forthcoming from Salmon. Her translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, was published in 2000, and her translation of the Anglo-Saxon riddle poems Uncommon Creatures, Singing Things, is forthcoming. She is the founding director, since 1992, of Bright Hill Press and Literary Center in New York’s Catskill Mountain Region.

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