Poetry: Gretchen Marquette

Poem about My Childhood Fascination with the Life-Sized Dinosaurs
at the Milwaukee Public Museum
(Featuring Tyrannosaurus over Fallen Triceratops)

I think it had to do with power, the way
Tyrannosaurus was permitted
to go on living, his voice punching
through the speakers hidden in the ferns.
And there was something about Triceratops
and her weakness, soft belly opened, spill
of her guts, how it could happen to any of us.
In early visits, I was often in a stroller,
my father somewhere behind me, plotting our course.
I had no control over how close I came
to those yellow teeth, flossed through
with entrails, though I remember wanting
to be both closer up and farther away
when the recording of thunder ruptured,
and the false lightning illumined
that menacing silhouette. His roar, then—

what it felt like was being at the park
on a swing, the hard plastic kind that slipped
underneath you every time he pushed. And he
pushed hard, wanting to make you happy—
and you became aware of the tremulous
connection of breath and bone, the wonder
that you hadn’t fallen yet. It was like that,
getting closer and closer to the Tyrannosaur,
a thing of painted concrete only insofar as you could believe
that you were safe in the world.

Love Dog

I want to serve 
love but seem
to have teeth

even in my tail,
like the dog
who growled 

when no dog
had ever growled
at me, a dog-girl,

I’d been one of them,
twitching over nothing but 
here is a day, here

is a hole, here
is a fallen tree for us
, this dog
was severe, brown-

black, kept me at bay
with fright, she
was a bee, a bear,

a bull in the neighbor’s field.
Her boy said
I’m the only one

gets to touch her
and gently
drew the skin

of her skull
and shoulder back to
show the pellets still

gnawing under
her fur. They hurt her
for fun
, he said, and then

my hand was not a hand
but a hazard
I recognized. 

So I learned it right then,
how we can’t all
be darlings, in service

of love, no we 
can’t all be love dogs.


All rights reserved to Gretchen Marquette.


Poetry: Gretchen Marquette

Poetry: Ray Succre