she starts growing fur and fangs,
watches hair poke through skin
like new-grown grass;
lets her spine bend to breaking point
and hides herself under baggy jumpers.
she keeps jagged glass and sewing pins
in the back of her underwear drawer
and waits until she’s alone to shed her skin.
While nerve endings scream their protests,
it still feels like coming home.
she prides herself on hunger pangs,
rakes new-grown claws over a stomach
that’s always empty or overflowing,
teaches herself to love the taste of bile
behind her teeth.
she learns how to bite,
how to draw blood;
how to silence a scream.
She sees the world in shades of crimson
and counts her scars at the end of the day.
she forgets what it’s like to walk on two legs.
She carves out a home
in the small hours of morning,
licks her wounds behind back-garden fences
and digs claws into dewy earth.
she learns to love the animal under her skin.
She steps over the threshold,
lets tendons stretch, lungs expand,
and howls at street lamps
when she can’t see the moon.
[The original title of this poem was “I Was A Mentally Ill Teenage Werewolf But I’m All Right Noooooooooooooow”. Figured that wasn’t quite the vibe I was going for, though.]