Sara Ryan

My Father Asks If I Was Raised By A Jackal

he laughs but he knows what he did. he molded my blood.

I became part wolf while driving

the lawnmower. my nails sharpened into blades.

I remember the day I woke up

with hair in my throat. I ran twenty miles in the snow

and didn’t get tired. I shaved my legs but the fur

kept growing back. my palms turned rough

and thick with grit. my father threw me down

the stairs but I landed on all fours. I ate my steaks

with less and less salt. more blood—no knives.

my sister and mother kept their distance.

they cleaned up the messes I’d make. my father

groomed the wolf in me —threw slices of meat at me

in the yard, live rabbits, flightless baby birds.

he kept me outside in the winter, to see

how long I would last, how hot my heart

would pump. once all my teeth fell out, I knew

I couldn’t go back. in their place, long, silvery fangs.

sharp bones cutting my lips. I blinded my mother

when I kissed her goodnight. I ran away the next day.

I killed small animals in the woods nearby. I kept warm

in the rotting leaves, the mud. sometimes, at night,

I could hear my father. he was howling for me.

at the moon. at the ink black of the sky.


Sara Ryan is the author of the chapbook Never Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned (Porkbelly Press). Her second chapbook, Excellent Evidence of Human Activity, is forthcoming from The Cupboard Pamphlet in Spring 2019. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Pleiades, DIAGRAM, The Rumpus, Yemassee, Booth, Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain and others. She is currently pursuing her PhD at Texas Tech University.

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