by Shaindel Beers

My cat gets used to her collar
the way I got used to my wedding ring.
I still fidgeted with it,
five years in.  It was the first thing
I took off when I got home.
I try to explain to her that it’s for
protection. So that if she gets lost
someone who finds her
will know that she belongs
to someone,
and I wonder if this is what he thought
when he gave me this ring.
Fifteen years ago,   
I was asked,
If you could have a dinner party
with any three people dead or alive,
who would you pick?
 I don’t remember any of my choices
except for my cat.
Everyone laughed.  But she’s still here.
And I don’t know the whereabouts of anyone
from that Sunday school class.
We’re going away.  Just me and her,
and starting over.  She’s been with me
through five boyfriends, four girlfriends,
one marriage.  When we drive South
she’ll be wearing her lavender collar.
I’ll be the one with bare hands.

by Shaindel Beers

You ask what was different this time,
and I answer that it was the combination of rocks and water
and make some obscene joke about the sexual escapades
which would have ensued had we been in Maine or Oregon,

but this is because I don’t know how to tell you about your eyes,
which you think are brown, but which I know are gold-flecked
in different lights, and the way they smiled
when we talked our odd talk about relationships
and the stars; not really astrology,
more astrodynamics and Eagles’ lyrics with a bit
of quantum theory thrown in for good measure,

and I don’t know what you see in me,
but I knew you were closer to the truth than anyone else
when you said that my body reminded you
of South Dakota, because I always knew I was a plains
state—only the colors of sand and wheat and
eyes as grey as storm clouds, which used to anger my mother
because she thought if only I’d had more color,
I could be beautiful—

The other day when we watched the geese,
and you said, wistfully,
Soon there will be goslings,
I didn’t mean to be a bitch and say
Poor, monogamous bastards,
but sometimes life is so structured, and I’m always
on the outside, never quite able to figure out the rules
that everyone seems to take for granted.

I’ve been told that loving me is like loving a guard dog,
you’re never sure if it’s love, or if you’re just grateful
that you’re the one thing it won’t kill;
and I don’t know how to stop this,
it just seems to be my way.  The way that giraffes
are my favorite animal, not only because they’re so gentle,
but because a mother giraffe can decapitate a lion
with a single kick if it threatens her calf.


Shaindel Beers is currently a professor of English at Blue Mountain
Community College in Pendleton, Oregon.  Her poetry, fiction, and social
commentary have appeared in
Willow Review, Poetry Miscellany,
Hunger Mountain, and numerous other journals and publications.  She
serves as Poetry Editor of
Contrary ( and
teaches in the Humanities in Perspective program at the Eastern Oregon
Correctional Institute.  Her non-literary interests include the outdoors and

On “Belonging” and “My Love, A Partial Explanation”:    
      Both of these poems came out of the experience of my divorce—an
event which, for me, resulted in a lot of personal growth and writing.  
On the one hand, I felt an incredible desire to really “find myself” and
become whoever I’m supposed to be as an independent entity, but on the
other hand, I kept falling into roles and expectations that others had for
me, and I still don’t know if it’s ever fully possible to be one’s self under
any of the social constructs of society.
      My cat Fluff, who inspired the first poem, passed away last
February.  She was almost nineteen years old.  We’d been together since
I was ten.  I still keep her lavender collar in my nightstand drawer.    

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 1
(Spring 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
My Love, A Partial Explanation