The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Lararium by Ray Ball


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Elizabeth Vignali, is from Lararium by Ray Ball, released by Variant Lit in 2020. 

The Four-Legged Beast

When my dog nudges my hand,
I feel the tightness in my chest
expand. Flutter into my throat.

She nudges my hand with her nose,
insisting with a certain baleful,
yet playful, look in her eyes

that I must survive this.
I must fill her bowls with food
and water. I let her and this darkness

into the dim morning shadows
of a suburban backyard and pray
it is only the four-legged beast
who returns to her crate.


Ray Ball currently lives on the land of the Dena’ina, where she works as a history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the author of two history books and two chapbooks of poetry, Tithe of Salt (Louisiana Literature, 2019) and Lararium (Variant Lit, 2020). Her poems and fiction have appeared in numerous journals, including GlassOrange Blossom Review, Split Rock Review, and X-R-A-Y. She has received multiple nominations for Pushcart and been a Best of the Net finalist. Ray is senior editor at Coffin Bell and assistant editor Juke JointYou can find her on Twitter: @ProfessorBall.  

Elizabeth Vignali is the author of the poetry collection House of the Silverfish (Unsolicited Press 2021) and three chapbooks, the most recent of which is Endangered [Animal] (Floating Bridge Press 2019). Her work has appeared in Willow Springs, Poetry Northwest, Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. She lives in the Pacific Northwest on the land of the Noxwsʼáʔaq and Xwlemi peoples, where she works as an optician, produces the Bellingham Kitchen Session reading series, and serves as poetry editor of Sweet Tree Review.

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