The dog’s full name was Margaret Thatcher. My mom is a little warped.

The Qualities of Iron


The bitch was a crone when I best knew her;

stub teeth mostly gone, her jowls black,

her wolfhound’s face had run to scabs

and there were blood gorged fleas nesting

in her mothy pelt. But this was a dog


who only claimed iron’s most positive traits;

tough as tempered nails, she outlived all reasoning.

No amount of pressure could make her bend

from the track of love, or approximation

of loving that she was able to give.


She was beautiful, in the way of metal;

blued and burnished as the flanks

of a bridge. A magnificence refined, indelicate.

She bore the splendour of nurses; in the depths

of Mother’s worst illness the mutt never stirred


from Joy’s writhing side, growling at anyone,

doctors, husband, children, who risked

the approach. She snapped her teeth at us,

and not in greeting, her paws weighing down

my mother’s thrashing arms; Maggie


dragged Joy from fever like moles

from a mine. And never mind if Joy

was happier there, lost in the depths

where the pain could not reach. The dog

bit her master’s wrists, drawing her out.


Like her namesake, she would remain

beyond the time that she was needed.

She slept in my parent’s dark bed for decades,

long after the rest of us graduated or were

removed. She died, unwillingly, at twenty-one.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on June 12, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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