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The Monster

by Melanie Sumner

When I was a little worried that one of my arms and legs might come off, or that my head would roll away, and then nobody would recognize me. In the family portraits that I supplied for the refrigerator door, in which I loomed out from the center of the page with a tiny parent on each side of me, none of us had all of our parts. I liked to walk up to people with my arms pulled up inside of my shirt sleeves and say, "Shake my hand."

My father let himself be horrified. "Is that my girl?" he'd ask. "Is that Rickie?"

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Mockingbird Years

by Emily Fox Gordon

WHEN I WAS EIGHTEEN MY PARENTS WERE FACED WITH A PROBLEM: what to do with a sullen, disorganized daughter who had failed to graduate from high school and who had returned home to Washington D.C., wrists bandaged, from an extended stay with her boyfriend's mother in Indianapolis. They took me in tow to the psychiatrist I'd been seeing off and on through my high school years, who recommended that I spend some time in a "therapeutic environment." He suggested Austen Riggs, a hospital in Stockbridge, Mass. where patients none of them too sick, he reassured us were free to come and go, and where I might spend some months away from the immediate source of my confusion, the boyfriend and his mother.

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LYCANTHROPY

 

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 a taste

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.

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