For Girls Learning Not To Fear The Dark
The city glows with a thousand yellow eyes,
ravening, and no one ever sleeps.
Feasts are had in the backseats of taxis
and fluorescent aisles of dog treats.
The lights are bright enough to blind
but never enough to hide
how each face in the sea of coats on concrete
wants something different from you.
They all want something.
The pack comes out of alleys, after
the sway of skirts and drumbeat heels
a siren’s song, their breath in the air.
They’ve got your name on their tongues now
a cherry lollipop dangling, a promise.
You slip through sliding doors,
past partitions of newsprint faces
of the lost never to be found.
They’ve got their claws out now
sharp silver edges sliding out of jacket pockets
into thirsty hands stained neon.
Those not part of the pack pretend
not to hear their laughter, the grumbling stomachs,
pretend not to see the blood in their eyes.
You’ve only ever known how to clutch your keys
like the fangs you’ve prayed for,
but they watch under dim buzzing streetlights,
tracing their jagged little moons
the same way your father
once caressed his guns.
And they see you, as he did:
a pretty deer to fell.
They’re on every corner now,
a network of sugar-slick smiles
holding cheap smoke.
The bars are closed now,
your fingers turn cold, and falter.
Asphalt swallows skin,
footsteps quicken, fumble, scrape,
weave through tight backstreets like veins.
What they’ve come for, what they crave,
you don’t have. The candy-center
is a sour pit, a stone.
They’ve never met a wolf like you,
who hides her teeth like aces and kings
behind a cupid’s bow.
A hundred glowing moons splinter,
wild and loose like telephone wires—
freeze. Chewed sticks fall from mouths.
You walk home alone
lipstick smudged, static skin.
The lights shadow those steps, waiting for dawn,
to hear the bark of laughter in the lanes.
The scavengers follow at your heels, begging
for your scraps, watching for the smile
you never give to those who ask for it.
And you grin, you do,
with your keys singing anthems
to the hunger in your chest.
Don’t they know by now? Don’t they know
that this city only howls at the door
of the one in sheep’s clothing,
and her stomach is never full.
By Carly Racklin
Carly Racklin loves storytelling in all its forms, but is especially passionate about the fantastical and the visceral. When not writing, she can be found drawing, playing video games, or plucking at her guitars. Her poetry has appeared in Words Dance and Bird’s Thumb. She is usually thinking about birds.