The Scrap

"Phoenician bitch!"
Peter's growl, stage-whisper soft—
soft enough for Galilean storms—
crawls against sun-baked walls
to smother the woman's yapping, now
turned to one long howl:
"Heal my child."
"Phoenician bitch!"
The master stops, turns,
lays a calloused hand on shoulders
knotted from drawing nets.
"Is it right to give my children's bread
to dogs?" Dry dugs, long past easing
the whimper lying in the litter,
heave. "Even dogs eat crumbs,"
she snarls, bare-fanged, to tear
grace from him to feed her child.
Shoulders worked by joiner's skill
shudder. "Give her the whole loaf,"
the whisper begs.
Its master mastered,
heaven's hound gives all its leash.

Craig McDonald taught English literature at King College in Bristol, Tennessee, when this poem appeared.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 2002
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