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 is an award winning author of the LBA, and a finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Awards. Her work was listed for the Cinnamon Press Novel Competition. She received her PhD from Aberystwyth University’s Creative Writing program. Her first poetry collection, A Radiance was published by Cultured Llama Press in June. Her second collection, Persephone in the Underworld has been accepted by Rufus Books and shall be released in 2016. Her work has appeared in: Anon, Art Times, Ampersand, Blue Tattoo, Sentinel Quarterly, The Delinquent, De/Tached (an anthology released by Parthian), The Writer’s Hub, New Welsh Review, Every Day Poems, And Other Poems, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Magma, Words & Music, The Quarterly Conversation, Tears in the Fence, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Planet. Her work is due to appear in the next issues of Poetry Review Salzburg, Acumen, Pacific Poetry , Music& Literature, Anon, and The Screech Owl.

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

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