Tayve Neese

They blame the she-dog

…the violence of Rome was begun by Romulus raised by a wolf with 
a taste for spillage from the hunt.

They say her teats swollen for Romulus
nurtured his blood-lust.

He suckled from a mother with fang 
but it was her coarse fur

that warmed him, his brother, toward feral.
It was her tongue turned them over,

bathed bodies until her scent covered
thighs keeping back serpents, flies,

as her claw rounded out their nest 
against a tree heavy with figs.

They will blame her for Rome’s
bark, the nation’s fetish with tear, 

mar, its symphonies 
of bone and sword. But they forget

the father, the god of war, and overlook
how the dog’s jaws did not once

pierce the skin of either infant,
her milk steady for the innocent.