By Miriam N. Kotzin
Especially for a woman the change
is painful, to watch my nails grow thick,
the hair on my body lengthen and coarsen.
Difficult, too, to be the subject of speculation.
I, who had always seemed so
conventional, suddenly afflicted.
I suffer the whispers of neighbors,
rightfully suspicious of my knowledge
of darkness, of unexplained bloodstains.
Unpleasant to be forced to wander,
night after night from village to village.
To be sure, there is more to it than hiding
in ditches, slinking up to the lonely cottage,
hunted by men made brutal by fear.
I am not expecting your sympathy.
I am afraid there is something messy,
unladylike about my acquired appetite,
about giving in to compulsion.
But something attractive, too.
Power, locks falling away, doors flying open.
Knowing I am the calm center of terror.
Myself childless, I began by devouring
my sisters' children, as is the custom.
It could have been a dead giveaway
when I did not join the women wailing
at the funeral. The remains
surrounded by watchers were no more
to me than my leavings.
Understand. Others have had
for young flesh, have sinned and escaped
loathesome transformations. True,
it is a misfortune to be singled out,
to be made into a moral lesson,
tiresome to become an example.
But I have never had patience
with women given to self-pity.