The letter R, trilled in Latin, was referenced as littera canina (“the dog’s letter”) since 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; R is for the —No; I know it begins with some other letter…
– Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene IV
Romeo, Romeo, look what you’ve done. Great. Just great.
Lover whose legacy is a sloppy, unbounded love,
a love forever nipping at our heels, an overprotective
love bearing its teeth at the mailman, a love anything
but pure, that is so easily confused with other things – like
dinner time – Eat, Juliet, eat! The green beans
are organic; there’s just a touch of cream
in the mashed potatoes. Have more. You look like death.
Here, pass this over. This world has just about enough of that kind
of love and maybe you are the responsible party,
doling out the love that chases its own tail –
the love you have to curb, that you’re constantly cleaning up after,
Romeo you could have washed the dishes and Juliet could have dried –
a domesticated love that still has wild relatives running in packs:
long distance love, love at first sight, and, of course, forbidden love.
Oh, Romeo, Romeo. Really? The nurse was right to call it out,
though she didn’t know enough of her letters to stand her ground.
And your children, too, would have been enveloped
in unconditional love, the dog’s letter having sired these new lives.
Infectious love. Romeo, Romeo. Even after all these centuries
of love, after its gone gray in the muzzle, there can be no mistaking it.
Nov. 29, 2013
One of 30 poems in 30 days