issue 31 poetry

R: All You Need

by Kathryn Petruccelli

R: All You Need

The letter R, trilled in Latin, was referenced as littera canina (“the dog’s letter”) because its sound was believed to resemble a dog’s growl.

Nurse: Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter?
Romeo: Ay, nurse; what of that? both with an R.
Nurse: Ah, mocker! that’s the dog’s name…

– Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene IV

Romeo, Romeo, look what you’ve done.
Lover whose sloppy legacy is unbounded love,
love forever nipping at our heels,
love that bares its teeth at the mailman.

This world has had just about enough of that.
Over-the-top, splashy, love that chases
its own tail – love you have to curb, love
you’re constantly cleaning up after.

Let me tell you here that love doesn’t always
come when it’s called, sometimes
it won’t even greet you after a long day.
It might snarl, or take up for a while

with the Russian Toy next door. But long-haul love
can be sparse and quiet, it can look a lot like
walking in step at someone’s heels or
waiting in the car for the one you adore to come

out of the store with tampons or motor oil.
Maybe if you’d reigned it in, Romeo,
you could have washed the dishes and Juliet
could have dried. There’d be date night

on the couch in your sweats, and arguments
about dirty socks on the floor. You’d
take over the vigil at the kids’ bedside
when they had the flu—

Why don’t you take a break, honey?
You look like death.

Kathryn Petruccelli holds an M.A. in teaching English language learners and obsessions over place, language, and the ocean. Her work has appeared in the Southern Review, Tinderbox, SWWIM, Sweet, and others. She teaches writing workshops for adults and teens that strive to develop the emotional literacy needed for a better future.