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(Step 1)

Do not forget
your crimson cloak
hanging by the door,
whose stains you now alone
must wash in the dust-pregnant
air.

No mother
to see you through.

The red,red color will drive
the wolf into a frenzy.
It will hide
the evidence.

(Step 2)

Make it a sunny day, so you might watch
the blood mist and cast a red-hued sheen
where it drips upon the dry,dry earth.
Only clouds abound?

Burn them.

Burn them away and pick the sun out
of the sky. Make it attend to you
as you prowl the woods
to find your wolf.

(Step 3)

Carry a basket filled with sweets,
with ripened jams, with the thin blades
you sharpen in the gloaming
lit only by the sparse flame you keep
in the hearth of a home which shouts
its tomb-like silence until, ears covered,
you enjoin with it your own
lonely scream.

(Step 4)

Hum a melancholic tune
as you slow to a meander
through woods both dark and deep.

This is Wolf Country.

Let your song rise on twisted breezes
and wash like lurid propositions
over your wolf.

(Step 5)

Notice when your wolf begins to stalk.
Lure it further from its den,
further from the village,
further from all hope.

(Step 6)

The wolf will come to you then.
It will come to you
as Mother-Father-Sister-Brother.
It will prance a merry jig,
cavorting in their clothes,
their gnarled hair still twined
in its blood-stained grin.

The wolf will take you up in dance.
It will take you up in danger.
It will take you up
in ecstasy.

(Step 7)

This  is where I leave you.
This  is where you make your choice.
This  is where you skin your wolf,
where you kill the thing which haunts
you, which has always lain beneath
your bed when night thickens about
your body,
which left
you
alone,
a child, a loss,
a feral creature of the wild
in your own right.

Or, you let the wolf take you.

You unbutton your dress.
The wolf sloughs off your skin.
You scoop out your eyes.
The wolf claws out your heart.
You break off your fingers.
The wolf takes out your soul.
It gobbles you whole.
You join with it,
with Mother-Father-Sister-Brother.

You become
one more dance,
one more costume,
one more trick it plays
to prey upon the living,
but you are no longer alone.
You are no longer alone.

You are no longer alone.



G.E. Woods (they/she) first ran into the arms of horror as a 5-year-old working in haunted houses. Queer, nonbinary, and invisibly disabled, they are a poet, memoirist, and writes SFF/H. She is a 2023 Rhysling finalist and has work published in STRANGE HORIZONS, YOUR BODY IS NOT YOUR BODY and MOONFLOWERS & NIGHTSHADE. She enjoys talking to the trees near their home. Find her at gewoods.com.
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13 May 2024

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