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When the wolf spits you out
you learn that where you’ve always lived
was an alternate universe-
a night filled with pinpricks
instead of stars.

Life is hard on the outside,
where no one wants to understand
why you smell like acid gut and carrion,
and flinch at every full-toothed smile
and carefully careless touch.

You go on living, of course,
even though you’ve already died
once, and can never go back-
now that you are too big for its belly,
too full of dirt and salt and self-respect,
to be appetizing to anyone.

Even the wolf-
whose claws you plucked out one by one,
whose mouth you muddied with blood-
doesn’t want you.

And you don’t want it.
Or so you tell yourself
when sometimes you look at the sky
and remember different stars.



[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Amanda Cook during our annual Kickstarter.]

Rin Willis is a writer and artist living in Southern California with her husband and goofy cat. She has been nominated for a Pushcart, and her poetry and short stories have appeared in The Molotov Cocktail, Corvid Queen, and the Eunoia Review. You can find her on Twitter @Indigo_Summers.
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8 Apr 2024

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